Saturday, 26 January 2013

Same-sex marriage: a letter from a Member of Parliament.

The following letter was received from the House of Commons this morning from David Davies, our local M.P. - he sums up rather well those issues which concern many of us:
Dear Father Michael, 
As you are aware, the government will shortly be voting on a Bill to legalise same-sex marriages in England and Wales. A number of churchgoers have contacted me to ask my views so I have decided to write to churches in Monmouthshire and very briefly set out my thoughts 
 Marriage has been recognized in cultural and religious terms as being the union between a man and a woman. This has been the case around the world for thousands of years. For a government to redefine marriage just a few months after the release of a consultation document, especially without a manifesto commitment, is rash to say the least.  
The government has promised it will build in safeguards to ensure churches are not forced to conduct gay marriages if they do not wish to. However, in my view there will be legal challenges which will probably  end up in the European Court and the government will have no say over the outcome. Nor will it defy the European Court of Human rights. Therefore churches have every right to be concerned.  
There will also be changes to the way in which sex education is taught in schools, although Ministers are unable to say what these changes will mean. I believe we should be told what they are before being asked to vote.  
Civil ceremonies give gay couples exactly the same legal rights as married couples. In my years in parliament not one single person has ever written to me asking for civil ceremonies to be replaced by gay marriages. I therefore believe there are no reasons to change the current situation, but many reasons to keep it as it is.  
I will therefore exercise my right to vote against the government’s proposals. Please feel free to share this with your congregation if you see fit.   
Yours sincerely,  
David  
David TC Davies MP 
 It is very reassuring to know that there are Members of Parliament who are prepared to vote according to their conscience and not simply fall into line in forcing through legislation which reflects only the somewhat shallow and ill thought-through fashions of the new metropolitan / metrosexual  political and cultural establishment. 
It's also a great relief that not everyone seems to accept the current consensus among the commentariat that Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election has changed the philosophical agenda for right of centre politicians who seek to be elected to office throughout the western world 

It remains to be seen, however, how Mr Davies' courageous stand in preparing to vote against his own government over this issue will be received by his local Anglican province, whose bishops  are clearly already engaged in the process of abandoning 'revising their presentation' of the Christian theology of sexuality.




  




Friday, 25 January 2013

For the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul: "The claim of Catholicism is that it shows to men the whole meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus."

"...In these and in similar ways the Pauline doctrine is returning...  But the full recovery  of the doctrine of the Church is bound up with the return of of the Gospel of God. Catholicism, created by the Gospel, finds its power in terms of the Gospel alone. Neither the massive polity of the Church, nor its devotional life , nor its traditions in order and worship can in themselves ever serve to define Catholicism; for all these things have their meaning in the Gospel, wherein the true definition of Catholicism is found.
Its order has its deepest significance not in terms of legal validity but in terms of the Body and the Cross; its Eucharist proclaims God redeemer and creator; its confessional is the place where men see that in wounding Christ sin wounds His Body, and where by learning of the Body they learn of Christ; its reverence for the saints is a part of its worship of the risen Lord. The claim of Catholicism is that it shows to men the whole meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus..."   
Michael Ramsey: The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1936) 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

"Unity"

"But what is the nature and meaning of this unity? It is deeper than convenience, organisation, human brotherhood. It is less formally expounded than tacitly assumed. There is no Christian community  mentioned in the New Testament which has not behind it some authority responsible to a larger whole, and there is no letter in the New Testament (except the epistle to Philemon} which does not show that the local society owes obedience to someone who addresses it it in the name of the larger whole.
Not of convenience alone, this unity is connected with the truth about Christ himself. It is the unity of His own Body, springing from the unity of God, uttered in the passion of Jesus, and expressed in an order and a structure...."
Michael Ramsey: The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1936)  

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snow

Quite a lot of snow today - for us

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost from New Hampshire (1923) 


Trois Chansons de Charles d'Orléans sung by the Cambridge Singers conducted by John Rutter. Today, the third, 'Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain!' is definitely the most appropriate:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Why is the Coalition in such a rush?

About everything. 
After the farce of a 'public consultation' over the issue of same-sex marriage, we now seem to have the prospect of rushed-through legislation on the subject of monarchical succession [here] - again, hardly something which is at the top of the average person's list of priorities in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Second World War. 
We could, of course, ask the question as to how exactly is the ending of male primogeniture any more 'logical' or 'equal'  then the ending of primogeniture itself? Both are the result of an 'accident of birth,' as, of course,  is the very  institution of monarchy. If we are desperately searching for a kind of à la mode pseudo-radicalism, then why not adopt the Anglo-Saxon model of an election within the Royal Family - something which would be fully consonant with the equally irrational notion of 'equality'  which currently holds sway among our governing political elites?
The answer to all this is - naturally - the business of raw politics. If you are unsure of what to do about matters of substance,  floundering in indecision or plagued by internal divisions, then for God's sake do something, anything...whatever...
The idea of leaving things alone, or giving time for a carefully considered response, taking into account the constitutional implications of any proposed change is, naturally, not on the agenda. 
The world began, after all, in 1968 - for 'conservatives' and 'liberals' alike...

Monday, 21 January 2013

The running of the deer...

Back a few days late due to snow and treacherously icy roads on the French side of the Channel.



A week ago, walking on the higher land above the farmhouse (I won't call them hills exactly - gently undulating with woods is a better description of the local topography) , the dog and I were surprised by four or five roe deer (chevreuil) - identifiable by the white flashes on their rumps - who moved rapidly but incredibly gracefully across the fields, vaulted the hedge and were gone.
It was a bit paradoxical, in view of the Christmas carol which speaks of 'the running of the deer,' that they should appear on the very day the Church reverted to 'Ordinary Time.' 
I've never much cared for the abruptness of the modern transition to 'tempus per annum' from the Christmas Season following the Feast of the Baptism; for one thing there are so many themes left to be explored after the great celebration of the Nativity. 
Far better was the older, more organic, gradual shift away from the celebrations of Christmas to the austerities of Lent found in the practice of the medieval Church with the season ending definitively at Candlemass.  Yet even now, in these early weeks of ordinary time, the weeks after the Epiphany,  we continue implicitly to explore the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. Gradually we take the 'liturgical decorations' down, pondering them as we put them away for another year....

After several abortive attempts to travel to the channel ports through snow and freezing rain, I finally got away at dawn on Sunday morning across some fairly hair-raisingly slippery roads before I reached the comparative security of the autoroute. On the way I made the mistake on turning on the car radio to catch the 'Sunday Worship' slot on BBC Radio 4 [long wave, audible for a long way down the west coast of France] where I picked up a service from St Martin-in-the-Fields 'anticipating' the second inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. [here]  Putting on one side the wisdom of devoting three-quarters of an hour of 'worship' to the theme of the swearing in of a foreign head of state (particularly one who, domestically, is proving to be such a divisive and secularist figure)  the result was predictable, partisanly liberal (in its over-blown comparisons with the heroic figure of Abraham Lincoln) and smugly anaemic. More and more it is becoming apparent that only a searching but unashamed Christian orthodoxy  is capable of interrogating the political process and challenging those who lead it. On show, however, were the usual chaplains to an aggressively secular culture...   

Some music, sung in French, to return to. Perhaps it is only the faith of the Saints, the faith of the Incarnation, which is capable of redeeming the narcissism of the age...
'Dirait-on'  (from Les Chansons des Roses) a setting by Morten Lauridesen of words by Rilke. Performed here by the Chamber Choir of Europe, conducted by Nicol Matt and accompanied on the piano by the composer.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Away for a week

This is as good a way as any to leave for a post-Christmas break in France. 
Since my student days I've been a great admirer of  the liturgical music of the Anglo-Canadian * (and Anglican - in the days when that meant something rather different: in fact he was a committed Anglo-Catholic ) composer Healey Willan who died in 1968.
This is a link to the latest post about the composer on the NLM site which, in turn, has a link to the Healey Willan Society

*According to several sources he is said to have once described himself as "English by birth; Canadian by adoption; Irish by extraction; Scotch by absorption."

This is his Missa Brevis No. 5 in F sharp minor sung by the Choirs of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Toronto with Robert Hunter Bell conducting.



Back in a week!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

So - this is the future?

From the Church in Wales [here]
"A group of five people will examine how radical proposals for the Church in Wales can be delivered.
They will look at recommendations made to the Church following an independent review, which took place across Wales last year, and advise the Church on how they can be taken forward.
The implementation group was appointed by the Governing Body of the Church and will report to it. It will review the recommendations and the responses received to them, draw up a timetable of action, act as a liaison point and monitor progress.
Chairing the group will be Helen Biggin, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation. She is joined by the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John; business consultant James Turner;  Nigel King, a market research professional; and Revd Paul Mackness, Vicar of the Benefice of Haverfordwest. All five are members of the Church’s Governing Body.
Their first report will be made to the Governing Body’s Standing Committee in February. A full report on progress will then be made to each meeting of the whole Governing Body.
Judge Philip Price, chairman of the Standing Committee, said, “We are very fortunate to have a group of talented and insightful people who between them bring a wide range of experience and ability to the task ahead and we are very grateful to them for giving their time and energy to it. Theirs will be a challenging job but one which will hopefully bring exciting changes, enabling the Church better to serve today’s Wales.”
Mrs Biggin said, “This is a really exciting time for the Church in Wales. The Review Group has made some radical and challenging recommendations, which offer great opportunities. Together with an enthusiastic team, I am looking forward to helping meet these challenges and deliver the changes that will enable the Church to thrive as it serves communities throughout Wales....”
To say that this press release hardly fills me with confidence  has to be the understatement of all time...
"Exciting, radical, challenging" - why is it that, in the face of the scale of the crisis that confronts us, those adjectives  (so decidedly unscriptural in their manufactured conventionality) ring so hollow? In order to serve "today's Wales" and its communities, we must all first learn again to serve God and not the passing fashions of the age..

These comments have been made by Ancient Briton  
It's very hard to disagree. His post is entitled "C in W: Going for broke " -I'm afraid we already are - on so many levels...
The crucial question - and this is where we will disagree quite violently - is how we effect the cure - how do we put Humpty Dumpty together again?
All very nice and ironic - until we consider that this is part - a small part, even a tiny fragment, but a part nonetheless - of the Body of Christ.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

(K)navish tricks

Atheist Sunday 'worship' is now available from time to time at the Nave, the former St Paul's church, Islington (off the Balls Pond Road if you're curious) says a report from the Huffington Post [here]
The building has, in fact, belonged to the Steiner Project since the 1990s, and is described as an 'education, arts and performance space,' but it's a warning of what could happen to many  redundant churches in the future. Still, to some in the Church of England it could be far worse; St Paul's could have fallen into the hands of the Ordinariate.
As for 'atheist Sunday worship,' it seems entirely logical for an ideology which is essentially parasitic upon the organism it purports to loathe.

Speaking of negativity, the exact opposite of the compassion and care of the Hospice movement, the worrying practice of the Liverpool Care Pathway, is at long last, after protests by senior churchmen and others, undergoing serious questioning, Christina Odone writes in The Telegraph [here]  As Christianity retreats and society can no longer live off the spiritual and moral capital of the past, something else will emerge from the shadows to fill the vacuum. 

And we may not like the resulting culture.
Bishop Mark Davies, the (Roman Catholic) Bishop of Shrewsbury, and the model of a modern Christian leader, expresses his all-too-realistic fears for the future in an interview for the Catholic Herald:
"..It is always difficult to foresee the future. As a young person, I used to pray for those Christians suffering under totalitarian regimes. It would have been quite unthinkable to believe that in Britain, during the gentle reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Christians would be brought before the courts for giving witness to their faith. I remember the words of Blessed John Henry Newman when he foresaw a time coming, a time of infidelity which, he said, would leave such courageous hearts as St Athanasius and St Gregory aghast and dizzy. But – and I think this is something which we must never, never forget – he also said that, though this trial for the Church would be different from all those preceding it, it would be overcome. I think that that is something that we must clearly see: that if we are called upon in our generation, our time, to give such witness, even being brought before courts, even facing the prospect of imprisonment, as you have mentioned, that this is our opportunity to give witness, as the Gospel reminds us, not just for our contemporaries but for generations who will follow us..."  
Read it all here 
And, lastly, illustrative of the resurgence of that strange topsy-turvy world of the fashionable left from which we thought, with some relief, we had moved on since the 1980s (except, alas, in Anglican establishment circles), Toby Young on the great George Orwell and the journalistic prize now awarded in his name to those supporting restrictions on press freedom [here]
"...My second reason for saying Orwell would have been opposed to a Leveson Act is his dislike of the “Europeanized intelligentsia”. Is there a better phrase to sum up the leading lights of the Hacked Off Campaign – men such as Professor Brian Cathcart, Dr Evan Harris and Hugh Tomlinson QC? In "The Lion and the Unicorn", Orwell wrote that the most salient fact about England’s liberal elite was “their severance from the common culture of the country”. He goes on: “In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings.” When I read this, I immediately thought of the films of Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant, with their sniggering superiority to everything that is quintessentially English, from the simple country vicar to Horse and Hound.
Few can doubt that the main target of Hacked Off – and Brian Leveson himself – is the tabloid press. It’s not just Page 3 they have in their sights, but kiss-and-tell stories, celebrity exposés – anything that offends against their over-developed sense of propriety. And there’s more than a pinch of snobbery in their antipathy to “the common culture of the country”, a snobbery that was repeatedly on display during the Leveson hearings. Robert Jay QC did everything but hold his nose when cross-examining Paul Dacre and Leveson himself occasionally let his disdain for the tabloids and their defenders show, such as the moment he snapped at Michael Gove, telling him he needed no lessons from the likes of him, thank you very much..."
As a 'simple country vicar,' I sympathise with what he says. There's a fine line between affectionate parody and 'sniggering superiority,' and it's one which in the largely politically and culturally monochrome world of movie-making is often crossed. 





Tuesday, 8 January 2013

As the new year rapidly ages...

The political and ecclesiastical news continues on depressingly predictable lines as the new year rapidly ages:

News from France [here] that the left's support for free speech doesn't extend to that of their (Christian) opponents. Of course, the bourgeois maoists on the barricades didn't change their minds; economic and political realities (mainly the ignominious collapse of the Soviet Union) merely forced them to become respectable. I've always thought that culturally and politically the two sides of the English Channel have more in common under the surface than what separates us - nothing bears this out more than the current views of the fashionable political elites. As we know, the politics of sexuality coupled with a managerial approach to welfarism are easier courses of action to pursue than doing something which will actually help society's poor and disadvantaged: notional 'rights' are a far easier thing for politicians to bestow than the realities of jobs and a decent education...

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali weighs in and asks the unaskable  in the row over the HOB statement on civil partnerships and the episcopate:
"When the Civil Partnerships Act came into force, the Church of England, like other churches, had an opportunity, as far as its clergy were concerned, to opt out. It chose not to do so allowing, rather, the government of the day to change ecclesiastical law by Order.
 "When the House of Bishops Pastoral Letter was issued in 2005, I asked how clergy could be allowed to be in a relationship which, under the provisions of the Act, mimicked marriage, even if the relationship was ‘celibate’. Some of us had tried, in the House of Lords, to amend the Act in such a way that it did not mimic marriage but this was not acceptable to the government of the day. Since then public perception has increasingly seen such partnerships as equivalent to marriage. What I said then about the clergy applies even more to bishops.
 "Given the confidentiality of relationships between bishops and clergy, how is the requirement of celibacy to be monitored and, if necessary, enforced?
 "In the context of same-sex relationships, what exactly does ‘celibacy’ mean? Does the admission of those in civil partnerships to the episcopate, who state they are celibate, include those who were previously in actively homophile relationships including with their present partner? The House of Bishops statement does not elaborate on this point but it is crucial to an understanding of what celibacy might mean in this context".
As an antidote to the endless ecclesial culture wars, here are two posts about prayer:
Firstly from Fr Levi on the universal significance of the Rule of St Benedict [He's right: it's relevant to all of us not just those in living in community, but it's best to get hold of a copy which splits up the text into daily sections for reading and reflection] and from the Parish Priest: St. Francis, Dallas on the psalter as the heart of the daily office. He does, of course,  hit the nail on the head when he writes about the various shortcomings of the conflated Prayer Book offices with their lengthy readings from Holy Scripture - what is the Office primarily for, after all? This discussion will outlast us all, but Archbishop Cranmer was nothing if not good at subverting the inner purpose of the tradition whilst keeping the outward appearance of continuity, and all in the most resonant language, the latter being his saving grace perhaps... at least whilst translating..

After the frenetic activity of Christmas this year, I'm looking forward next week to a few days away (without internet access - so no blogging either) to catch up on some reading as well as more healthy outdoor pursuits. I've not yet managed to find time to read more than a chapter of Pope Benedict's new brief volume on the Infancy Narratives. However, those who didn't undergo their theological education in the days when the various historical / critical methods (seven types of scepticism, to adapt a title from another discipline) were regarded as virtually infallible, have no idea how refreshing it is, even now, to read this in his foreword:
"..I am convinced that good exegesis involves two stages, Firstly one has to ask what the respective authors intended to convey through their text in their own day - the historical component of exegesis. But it is not sufficient to leave the text in the past and thus relegate it to history. The second question posed by good exegesis must be: is what I read here true? Does it concern me? If so, how? With a text like the Bible, whose ultimate and fundamental author, according to our faith, is God himself, the question regarding the here and now of things past is undeniably included in the task of exegesis. The seriousness of the historical quest is in no way diminished by this: on the contrary, it is enhanced..."








Monday, 7 January 2013

2013 - 'all godly quietness?' - I don't think so...

A few interesting links to comment over the last few days.

In an article for The Spectator about issues of  'gender' (sic) and homosexuality in the Church of England, Melanie McDonagh [here] comments about the possible effect equalities legislation is already having on the internal conduct of ecclesial bodies. She also argues, on the surface quite logically, that women bishops and gay bishops are two different issues. Not quite. Distinct they may be, related they most definitely are,  as part of the liberal programme to emasculate the Church in the face of contemporary western culture's onslaught upon revealed religion and, ultimately, the whole concept of transcendence.

The Archbishop of Kenya (FCA / GAFCON Primates' Chairman) condemns the latest stealthy move by the C of E's bishops  to change Christian moral theology  [here] He 'gets' the vital issue:
"...Yet it is a great sadness that before the New Year has hardly begun, the life of the Anglican Communion has yet again been clouded by compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West.
The decision by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, just announced, that clergy in Civil Partnerships can be eligible to serve as bishops will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge..."
In, of course, The Guardian's epically lunatic 'Comment is Free' section  [which always tempts the question: 'yes, but for how much longer if you people get your way?'] Canon Giles Fraser - who can doubt any longer that he is turning into, in Eccles and Bosco's phrase, this generation's 'comedy vicar' - argues, quixotically even for him, in favour of the morality of episcopal duplicity [here] Again, one might say they don't need any further encouragement...

On the subject of media parsons, this is Ancient Briton's typically trenchant take on the new éminence grise of the Church in Wales, Bishop Richard Lord Harries of Pentregarth and his recent exhortations to Anglicans to show trust. Irony awareness training, anyone...?

And speaking of begging the question, the recent viral YouTube video 'Ordain a Lady' was rather spoilt for me by a) the singer's inability to pronounce 'Lisieux' and (b) the instruction, 'Don't listen to St Paul.' - which, added together, sums up the problem rather succinctly, n'est-ce pas?




Sunday, 6 January 2013

Surge Illuminare

Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem, quia venit lumen tuum, 
et gloria Domini super te orta est. 
Quia ecce tenebræ operient terram, et caligo populos; 
super te autem orietur Dominus, 
et gloria ejus in te videbitur 

Surge, Illuminare', an unaccompanied motet by the contemporary English composer Andrew Simpson - sung by Southern Voices 





Today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah - here in the Authorised Version:
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Epiphany of the Lord

Peter Cornelius' Drei Könige sung here by baritone Robert Rice with Polyphony, directed by Stephen Layton



Epiphany
"The Magi took the lids from their urns and unfastened their caskets, when they presented the symbols of universal homage to our infant prince.
But when a woman came to anoint the king in his royal city, she shattered her alabaster jar, that she might pour the precious spikenard on his head.
There was a sympathy between her action and the approaching Passion: the perfume of man's homage could not be offered to God, without breaking the veined alabaster, the body of the Son of man.
Our incense may rise, like that of the Magi, from unbroken vessels, if we present our bodies a living sacrifice. Yet a living sacrifice is also a sacrifice, and is made so by some participation in the shattering of the vase. Christ sacrificing himself, joins us with him in sacrificing him; Christ, sacrificing himself, sacrifices us, for he has made us parts of him. We come to offer our homage to Christ, but his star has brought us, and the breaking of his mortal vase has furnished all the perfume of our offering."
Austin Farrer:  from The Crown of the Year 
(Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament)
Dacre Press (1952)

A good time to bury bad news...?

This seems to be the 'big story' about the the Church of England, bishops and civil partnerships the press is currently running with...
"The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England's approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group's work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate."
This was, of course, tucked away in the summary of the decisions of the House of Bishops published on 20th December 2012. [here

So in that sense, yes,  there is nothing particularly new here, only that large sections of the media, unsurprisingly and with their own exclusive- inclusive agenda to plug, tend to love any controversy involving the Church and homosexuality, particularly where there is likely conflict brewing, and where change can be so easily engineered; and, in terms of contemporary Anglicanism in the west, they are, of course, pushing against an open door.

However, the twentieth of December of any year is undoubtedly a good day to bury potentially bad news, to "take out the trash," as the Americans would say; the very end of 2012 was a particularly good time to do this, as it marked the end of the incumbency of one Archbishop of Canterbury and comes well before the enthronement of his successor.

All this only serves to mask the real issue here, and that is the convenient liberal myth of the 'celibate' civil partnership. This news, if it is news (it is certainly news-worthy), is yet another example of the liberal establishment in the Church continuing to push the envelope - we can expect much more of this as we see the first episcopal appointments * made under the changed discipline.
The candidates are the obvious ones. 

Having said that, it is manifestly a nonsense to allow parish clergy to undertake civil partnerships ('celibate' or 'non-celibate': who is capable of making - or would be willing to make - that kind of judgement about a relationship's continence and sexual activity?) whilst trying to apply another standard to those ordained to the episcopate. As has happened so often, the Church's moral theology has already been changed by stealth and a process of attrition. There is no internal debate or theological reflection going on about the Church's teachings on sexuality that is more than merely cosmetic; we all know that a decision in favour of change (in accordance with the prevailing mores of western society, of course) has already in practice been made, the only real argument now being about exactly how these changes can be sold to the wider Church without frightening the horses too much. 
This is clearly what is worrying Anglicanism's Roman and Orthodox ecumenical partners who, either openly or more discreetly behind the scenes, are rightly accusing us not only of deliberate inconsistency but of a bewildering frivolity and downright dishonesty in our contemporary approach to moral theology and its implications for Christian unity.

As we know, the implementation of the liberal agenda is a one-way street - as irreversible as the decline consequent upon it. 
To change the analogy somewhat, it is achieved 'brick by brick,' as they say elsewhere in a more orthodox context where the phrase refers to a building up rather than a tearing down...

*Not necessarily in the Church of England, as one report today suggests [here]
In fact, given an impending retirement, this could be very close to home indeed...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Farewell to Canterbury


Archbishop Rowan Williams' BBC television programme on Canterbury Cathedral was in many ways what one would have expected; it was erudite, learned, thoughtful, sensitive; it was very much the perspective of a modern man, consciously, deliberately, questioningly, a man of his time, confronting the questions and difficulties evoked by eternity. It summed up,  revealingly, both his strengths and his weaknesses as a Churchman. 
But it's always best to make up your own mind: watch the programme again [here].
A verdict on his time as Archbishop?  I wouldn't presume. Wasn't it Chou En Lai, the Chinese premier, who said, when asked in the 1960s about the impact of the French Revolution, that it was far too early to judge?
My own impressions - for what they are worth - are that of a complex man of very great personal kindness. 
Let's leave it there.
Vale

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Ordinariate gets its new home in London

The Catholic Herald is reporting that the Ordinariate in England and Wales is to be given its principal Church in London this year, with the gift of the 18th century Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory in Warwick Street:
"At the same time, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is being dedicated to the life of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for their groups in central London. I hope that the use of this beautiful Church, in which the young John Henry Newman first attended Mass, will enable Catholics in the Ordinariate to prosper and to offer to others the particular gifts of the Ordinariate."
This will be very welcome news indeed for all who wish the Ordinariate well as Anglicanism itself tragically continues to slide further into disarray as it deserts its own traditions and heritage.

However, the breaking news report's central focus is the ending of the so-called 'Soho masses' for "those who experience same-sex attraction." *
The full report is here


* On a related matter, of which we will doubtless be hearing very much more as the year goes on,  the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has produced a sane and reasoned briefing paper on the issue of same-sex marriage - useful to all who support the equally sane and reasonable, traditional definition of marriage. The paper is available here as a downloadable pdf file

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Some Bach for New Year's Day!
Part V of the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 with Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists:


Back to news and comment tomorrow after the end of the Christmas Octave - I see the predicted judicial lunacy has already begun.... "A nation that forgets its past has no future."
On your Solemnity, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for what was once your Dowry..