Friday, 11 March 2011

Good news from Wales

It has been announced that the successor to Dr Richard Fenwick as Dean of Monmouth [see a previous post] is to be Canon Jeremy Winston SSC, a former Chairman of the Additional Curates' Society and, at present, Vicar of St Mary's, Abergavenny. This blog offers Fr Jeremy its warmest congratulations and prayers on a richly deserved appointment and a long overdue recognition of his considerable abilities. It suggests there is not a complete absence of good will towards traditionalists in the Church in Wales, or at least it is further welcome evidence of the good will of the Bishop of Monmouth himself. Perhaps some will see it as akin to the prophet Jeremiah buying the field of Hanamel at Anathoth on the eve of the fall of Jerusalem, a sign of hope for the future.

This is Bishop Dominic Walker's very warm announcement: [more here]
"I am delighted to announce the appointment of Canon Jeremy Winston, the Vicar and Area Dean of Abergavenny, as the new Dean. He will be installed on Saturday, 10th September. As you know, I have consulted widely and taken soundings as to the qualities people feel are needful in someone who is to be the Dean at this time in the life of our Cathedral Church; it has been an interesting and informative exercise and Jeremy’s name has been warmly commended by many of you. I believe that he has the gifts and personal qualities that are needed to develop our Mother Church as a place of prayer, mission and welcome and to be a personal presence in the city of Newport. In addition, he has the musical and liturgical skills and also experience in successful fund-raising and building restoration.
The decision to invite Jeremy to be the Dean was taken after a time of prayer and discernment by both of us. As you will know Jeremy is a ‘traditionalist’ and holds that view with integrity and it is an honoured position within the life of the Church in Wales. Whilst I would not ask Jeremy to act contrary to his conscience, he gladly gave me the assurance that the Cathedral must be the Mother Church for the Diocese and women Canons will continue to be welcome to celebrate the Eucharist, and as Dean he will host the Chrism Eucharist and Ordinations. I trust that Jeremy’s appointment will indicate that as a Christian family we can demonstrate our unity in diversity."
This is probably a completely inappropriate occasion to say this but, without taking anything away from our warmest congratulations and our welcome for this very significant and good appointment (I'm sorry to have to be the ghost at the feast -perhaps that's now my vocation, in more ways than one) but, ecclesiologically, for all "catholics," appointments of this nature, however highly welcome they are, in fact change nothing, but only serve to illustrate the nature of the cultural and theological adjustments we will all have to make - and, of course,  have been making for some considerable time - in order to survive even temporarily in the contemporary Anglican climate.
Some may, with complete integrity, be able to see a future as a chance to demonstrate Anglican 'unity in diversity,' although  surely now it has to be clear to everyone that that 'diversity' is itself  time-limited, and also defined, constrained and regulated by the revisionist hegemony.  Others - equally indebted to their Anglican heritage - may over time find the necessary adjustments an impossible price to pay.
We should not be misled into thinking that this very good news is evidence of the possiblity of a long-term future for catholic traditionalists within the Anglican Communion, or that it is anything other than a brief gleam of light from a wintry sky. Many of us more than suspect that the future for the children of the Oxford Movement now lies elsewhere.


  1. Your post is so disappointing and, as you yourself suggest, inappropriate. The new Dean's appointment is an outstanding one, whatever ecclesiological viewpoint you espouse, and it comes about as a result of the graciousness and generosity of both Jeremy and Bishop Dominic.

    Such graciousness and generosity is surely part of our Anglican 'patrimony'; it is certainly the reason why there are still those of us in the Church in Wales on both sides who are prepared to honour the position of those we do not agree with.

    I hope that you will soon be able to find a position from which you will no longer feel the need to mar a joyful occasion with polemical points which are destructive of the communion Jeremy and others continue to strive to build, and which still is generous and gracious enough to allow you to continue in your vocation as a priest.


  2. The new Dean's appointment is an outstanding one, whatever ecclesiological viewpoint you espouse, and it comes about as a result of the graciousness and generosity of both Jeremy and Bishop Dominic."
    I couldn't agree more! My intention was not to mar a truly joyful occasion (as if from my position of well-deserved obscurity that would be possible anyway) But as to my caveat, which actually takes nothing at all away from the outstanding nature of the appointment and the understanding and generosity shown on all sides, tell me exactly where it is ecclesiologically inaccurate in terms of the future and I promise to shut up - possibly for good!
    However, as to your last comment: "which still is generous and gracious enough to allow you to continue in your vocation as a priest," I can't help but feel you make my point far better than I can myself.

  3. Your caveat, like your position, depends on the presumption that there is a 'correct' ecclesiology. Much of the past forty years has been for me the discovery that (as you may remember I was many years ago reminded) I may possibly be wrong. Much of the past fifteen or more years has been for you the discovery that there are intolerant forces within the Church who per se negate the genius of the Anglican 'patrimony' and are themselves ungracious and ungenerous.

    I feel that your caveat is simply ungracious in this context, and while I don't agree with it, I fully respect your right to hold that position. There will have to be graciousness on the part of all if any of us are to come out of the current situation with any Gospel credibility.


  4. Thank you for that comment; it's very helpful. Yes, you are right my position does depend on precisely that, and however hard I try I can't get away from it; it goes a long way to explain my present dilemma.
    But we all probably, myself most particularly, need to learn more charity, tact and forbearance, and, especially perhaps, the right time to keep silence. But there was no intention in my post to be destructive of some very good news for us all.


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