Thursday, 7 February 2013

Cause and effect

Here are two reports, the first from John Bingham at The Telegraph [here] about the predictable (and predicted) liberal indiscipline and arrogance over human sexuality and, most importantly, a practical attempt not, as we know, for the first time, to subvert the theology of the (Anglican part of the) Church covertly and from within, and the second, [here] from the Russian Orthodox Church about a speech last autumn by Metropolitan Hilarion at Villanova University in Philadelphia.
An excerpt from each article will suffice:
“It is because of the renunciation by some Protestant denominations, as well as parts of the Anglican communion, of the ancient Christian tradition that it has become ever more difficult for the Orthodox Church to continue co-operation with them. I regret this, but the dialogues with Protestants and Anglicans which we have had for decades are now under threat because of processes taking place in the Protestant communities of the West and North. I mean the continuing liberalization in the field of theology, ecclesiology and moral teaching. Certain denominations have legitimized the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people openly declaring their non-traditional sexual orientation.“We are obliged to speak about this because we want to preserve the good that was achieved during the years of dialogue between Orthodox on the one hand and Protestants and Anglicans on the other. In defending the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Church, we remain true to this dialogue, yet at the same time we see that Protestants and Anglicans are growing away from us by accepting innovations which we find unacceptable...."
“Unlike dialogue with the Protestants and Anglicans which has reached a dead end, dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church seems to have a future to it precisely because, like the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church does not think of itself outside of Tradition and strives to teach and live in accordance with the tradition of the apostles and holy fathers...." 
"Campaigners claim that there could be “hundreds” of blessing services, complete with prayers, readings and even a form of vows taking place “under the radar” within the established church from early next year.
They believe a “groundswell” of support from within sections of the Church could eventually open the way for a challenge to the official line on same-sex weddings.
Others, including a handful of well known landmark churches and cathedrals, are planning to openly stage special services of “prayer and dedication” for gay couples, almost identical to blessings already on offer for heterosexual couples who chose to marry in a register office.
The Church of England has been a vocal opponent of David Cameron’s plans to allow gay couples to marry, which received the backing of the Commons on Tuesday, warning that it could even threaten disestablishment.
Bishops have negotiated a so-called “quadruple lock” of legal measure designed to prevent the priests being forced to carry out gay weddings against their will.
But some liberals say they do not share the Church’s official line and complain that they were not consulted.
Current Church rules ban parishes from holding blessing services for those who form civil partnerships.
But many priests get around the rules by calling them services of “prayer and dedication”.
The services, usually held after the civil ceremony, involve communion and, in some cases, special liturgies containing elements similar to the wedding service.
Now several priests are drawing up plans to offer similar services for couples who have same-sex weddings.
The Rev Colin Coward, director of the Anglican campaign group “Changing Attitude”, said: “There are people who will do a blessing in a church, I don’t think that’s a problem.
“It will be under the radar a bit but it would happen."
He said there were already hundreds of unofficial blessing services for civil partnerships taking place.
“Among liberal churches it is pretty widespread although people don’t talk about it,” he said..."
Of course, we are under no illusions that, for Anglicans, 'catholic ecumenism' has indeed "reached a dead end." Neither is there any hope left that, in the aftermath of the House of Commons vote earlier this week, the Anglican provinces in England and Wales will not now follow the siren voices of the zeitgeist, those who have come, in Johannine terms, only to scatter the sheep and "to steal and kill and destroy."
On a related matter, I had a notice in the mail today advertising a study day, led by an Anglican priest, on the apocryphal and gnostic "Gospel of Thomas," which most serious scholars, together with the Fathers themselves, regard as spurious and (at least with its  gnostic content and interpolations)  dating from the mid second century or even later. Increasingly, tragically, 'it's where we're at' - wilfully misreading the past in order to feel better about the present.
 But please - no more pious platitudes about the importance of ecumenism from those of us  whose actions - or inactions - have helped to destroy it. 


  1. 'under the radar'
    Is there really such a thing, truthfully? What it really means is that they won't put a full page ad in the local paper about it or write a letter to the bishop informing him what's taking place ... and the bishop will pretend not to know what has happened and if anyone does complain it'll be swept under the carpet with a bit of fudge ... and then after that's gone on for a few years, they'll say it's been going on quietly for years & no one has any problems with it.
    It's less under the radar than stealth bombing.

    1. It has already happened at St Magnus Martyr London last year - at least once. This was a very public event and an account of it was written. There was wedding music, vows and rings were exchanged; holy communion was celebrated, and finally the Wedding March as the young men walked down the aisle together.The father of one of the young men is a vicar, and preached.
      It's real - wake up - it's really happening.

  2. If I understand it correctly, the CofE position is that although we all talk about a blessing in church (eg when divorcees remarry), in fact what the approved service is is a Service of Prayer and Dedication. Neither marriages registered outside church nor civil partnerships are formally blessed.

    That's the official line. However, the form these services takes often leave the "non-churchy", ie usually 90%+ of the congregation, with the impression that they will have just attended a marriage ceremony.

    Fr Levi is right, this isn't under the radar at all, especially not in certainly dioceses. What will change, and very quickly, is that it will be become more and more common, and shouted more and more loudly.

    Still, remember the event in this article? How much more loudly could things be shouted? This wasn't exactly subtle, much less "under the radar". Tomorrow is already here.

  3. It's not exactly under the radar in London, as the St Magnus and the St Bartholomew's stories show.

    1. True, but London is a rather particular expression of Anglo-Catholicism. You can't say that it's typical.


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