Thursday 22 May 2014

We wouldn't disagree with the analysis ... "the Fallacy of Wannabe Anglicanism."

The following is from an article written for the Denver Catholic Register by the American commentator George Weigel. He is responding to reported comments from (former Sr) Lavinia Byrne to the effect that the (Roman) Catholic Church should have embraced recent Anglican innovations ..... 
"...Dr. Lavinia Byrne (for those unfamiliar with the higher echelons of the British Catholic commentariat) is a former nun whose refusal to concede that the question of ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood was definitively settled by John Paul II in 1994 led to difficulties with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and her eventual departure from religious life. Dr. Byrne was one of those interviewed for the ABC program on John Paul II, and while her animus toward the Polish pope was entirely predictable, what struck me was the following statement, which she made toward the end of the program:
“If in the 1990s, the [Catholic] Church had followed the example of the Anglican communion and had accepted the ordination of women, it would look very different nowadays….Had there been ordination of women we would not have had parishes that are starved of the sacraments because there simply aren’t enough young men coming forward who are prepared to be celibate and prepared to labor on their own.”
There, in brief, is the Fallacy of Wannabe Anglicanism.
If the experience of Anglicanism in Great Britain is the measure Dr. Byrne proposes, then it is certainly true that “the Catholic Church…would look very different nowadays” if “in the 1990s [it] had followed the example of the Anglican communion and had accepted the ordination of women”—it would look empty. For that is how most Anglican churches in Britain today look on Sunday: empty. There are, of course, many reasons for the collapse of Anglican faith and practice in the U.K.; but there isn’t the slightest shred of evidence that that collapse has been slowed, much less reversed, by the Church of England’s decision to admit women to its ordained ministry....
.... The Church of England went ahead with the “radical innovation;” the quest for full communion between Canterbury and Rome suffered a grave blow; North Atlantic Anglicanism continued to hemorrhage active congregants.
Hard experience should have taught us by now that there is an iron law built into the relationship between Christianity and modernity. Christian communities that know and defend their doctrinal and moral boundaries (while extending the compassion of Christ when we fail to live within those boundaries, as we all do) survive in modernity; some actually flourish and become robustly evangelical. Conversely, Christian communities whose doctrinal and moral boundaries are eroded by the new orthodoxy of political correctness, and become so porous that it becomes impossible to know if one is “in” or “out,” wither and die.
That is the sad state of Anglicanism in the North Atlantic world today: even splendid liturgical smells-and-bells can’t save an Anglicanism hollowed out by the shibboleths of secular modernity. Why British Catholics like Lavinia Byrne can’t see this is one of the mysteries of the 21st-century Church."
Yes, there are, indeed, many complex reasons for the collapse of Anglican faith and practice in modern Britain, some of which are traceable back for over a century. Yet the statistics are indisputable: contrary to the glib predictions of its proponents, the ordination of women has done nothing to arrest that decline. 

There will be no further posts here for the next week - normal service resumes in June .... 

Sunday 18 May 2014

Pope and Patriarch in Bethlehem

Pope Francis is to meet Patriarch Bartholomew in Bethlehem on May 25th. [A report from ZENIT here
It is an encouraging sign that the official Orthodox delegation [announced here] cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as exactly theologically underpowered.
While our own leaders in the Anglican Communion have been constrained by recent ecclesiologically incoherent decisions to explore the wilder reaches of Protestant ecumenism - that is now the future we are confined to, barring a miracle [see here for the inevitable consequences of such unfaithfulness in the U.S.A.]  - we must hope that progress can be made towards a reconciliation of  the ancient Apostolic Sees of East and West and a restoration of unity. 
Most commentators agree that that day is not imminent, but we should pray for ever greater theological understanding and practical cooperation between Rome and Constantinople: the future of the Church depends upon it.

Friday 16 May 2014

'The King is in the altogether' ... Ecumenism is not best driven by incoherence and desperation

It's strange, isn't it, how things turn full circle? Back in the (in retrospect, if not at the time) halcyon days of the 1980s  the Church in Wales sought to embark on an exercise in Protestant ecumenism with the other 'covenanting' ecclesial bodies in the Principality. 'Ministry in a Uniting Church' * we had assumed was destined to be, if that, a footnote in Welsh church history. 
Just imagine our surprise - irony alert, if one is needed -  when, under the new liberal hegemony (with its slimmed-down - except, of course,  in terms of patronage and co-options- and far less representative Governing Body) that ill-fated scheme has had new life breathed into it - or something along those lines, although perhaps in a somewhat 'Haitian' sense - in the form of 'The Gathering'   

As we reported a few weeks ago with reference to the creation of a raft-load of possible new 'bishops' in Wales, this is nothing other than MUC redivivus [here], another liberal pet project to add to the lengthening agenda - ecclesiologically highly incoherent (I won't say dishonest, although many would)  and utterly dependent upon the - how shall we say - deconstruction and radical reinterpretation of any remaining 'catholic' pretensions - theological and ethical - which we in the Church in Wales may fondly cling to.
Along with the consecration of women bishops, the forthcoming adoption of the essentially 'non-conformist' (and failed) form of pastoral organisation represented by the new 'ministry areas', this will considerably hasten our demise. 

It has recently been said that “We have been challenged by the Gathering of Churches in Wales to seek for unity among Christians .....  Jesus requires his followers to be one family: it’s time to take that command seriously.”   
But missing from the list of those involved in this venture are representatives of the ancient apostolic sees of East and West, which may be an indication of just how seriously the Lord's command is being taken ...

* I have a vivid memory from the day of my priesting of the bishop who ordained me finding a copy of 'Ministry in a Uniting Church' in the sacristy of the relevant cathedral. 'What is this doing here?' he asked, before disdainfully throwing the rather slight volume across the room. 
Enough said ...
Except for ... someone remarked to me the other day that one of the incentives for an acceptance of the 'United Church' model is that Free Church dignitaries in Wales would be able to become cathedral canons - clearly, the emperor's new clothes have red piping ...

Thursday 15 May 2014

Leaders debates - exactly what we don't need ...

In the run-up to the next British General Election (we hope not minus Scotland) the media are getting very excited at the prospect of  the party leaders debating one another on the internet.
In fact, these kind of infantilising personality contests are exactly what we don't need; they are one of the reasons politics (and, indeed, voting itself) is increasingly a minority interest. In case it has escaped everyone's notice, we don't have a presidential system - issues please ....

Wednesday 14 May 2014


I didn't sit through Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest, having long ago come to regard it as a televisual means of self-harm. What was remarkable (the result wasn't: the event ceased to be, even in a tenuous sense, about music a while ago, and it would be extremely hard to  think of a cultural icon more in tune with our times than a chanteuse who just happens to be a bearded gay transvestite: a perfect snapshot - a 'selfie,' naturally - of our values) - no, what was remarkable were the outbursts of spontaneous 'Russophobia' from the various studio audiences scattered around the continent.

Now, of course Russophobia isn't one of the socially approved 'phobias' at which we are instructed to hold up our hands in orchestrated horror and simulated disgust, but it's no less dangerous - even if only as a graphic indication as to how brainwashed by the mass media we have all become. 
"A future of peace and freedom," as the Eurovision winner opined? I wonder ...

None of this is exactly new; admiration in the West for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (at least among the left-leaning commentariat) diminished rapidly when, just before the collapse of the USSR, he made a series of perceptive and damning criticisms of the spiritual, moral and ethical malaise of, in the terminology of the day, 'the free world.' 
The West triumphed over Soviet Communism in the 1980s; more than a few of us have been left aghast at the self-indulgent, ' panem et circenses,' way in which we have squandered that victory. 

A reminder of the 'otherness' of Holy Russia - probably as anathema to our secular opinion-formers as the nationalistic authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin. 

Respect, control and grade inflation

From The Telegraph:
"Traditional teachers’ titles such as “Sir” and “Miss” should be consigned to history because they discriminate against women, according to academics.
Pupils should be encouraged to use teachers’ first names to bring schools up-to-date and ensure children are not exposed “to the prejudices of the previous generation”, it was claimed." [here]
- yet another example of the confusion in many contemporary minds between undue deference and necessary respect. Calling teachers by their first names will, of course, help hugely with classroom discipline and with instilling in pupils (or is is now 'students') the kind of academic work ethic which will serve them well in later life .

Christina Odone, here, however, goes on from this (non) story to speak of a growing trend, which many of us have observed in hospitals and nursing homes, to call elderly patients by their Christian names, seemingly whether they like it or not. 
However, what can seem friendly and rather reassuring to some, may appear to other vulnerable patients to be undermining what little dignity and autonomy they have left to them; informality can so easily morph into a casual and patronising lack of respect and, as we know, something far worse. 
In a culture which, strangely, as the general population ages, increasingly fails to value the experience, wisdom and identity of the elderly, this is a worrying development.

And, as for the comment, reported elsewhere, by a teacher that she would much prefer to be called 'Professor' than the supposedly patriarchal 'Miss' - well, apart from the somewhat inflationary use of titles, a phenomenon not unknown in the modern, informal and inclusive Church,  isn't it a bit .... well ... Harry Potter...?

Saturday 10 May 2014

"It is the act of our Creator." - For 'Good Shepherd Sunday' - Austin Farrer and Hylton Stewart

"Christ's parable of the shepherd escapes us not by being obscure, but by being so plain. The meaning is so familiar that we overlook it. What does he say? A man cares naturally for his own things. He does not have to make himself care. The shepherd who has bought the ground and fenced the fold and tended the lambs, whose own the sheep are to keep or to sell, cares for them. He would run some risk, rather than see them mauled; if he had only a heavy stick in his hand, he would beat off the wolf. Christ does not boast, as a man among men, that he loves mankind more than any other man, through a higher refinement of virtue. He says that he cares for us as no one else can, because we are his. We do not belong to any other man; we belong to him. His dying for us in this world is the natural effect of his unique care. It is the act of our Creator." 
The Crown of the Year (Easter ii)

The Choir of St Paul's Cathedral, directed by John Scott, sings Charles Hylton Stewart's setting of Psalm 23 

More on the Harvard Satanists

I hesitate to give even more publicity to this trifling incident, but connoisseurs of  the contemporary secular misuse (or is it redesigning?) of the English language will appreciate this follow up story particularly...

The Archdiocese of Boston has now been accused of paranoia and intolerance for opposing the forthcoming 'Black Mass' ritual on the Harvard University campus [here] - and see yesterday's post
It appears that Satanists are really caring individuals who are kind to animals and have massive social outreach programmes to the poor and marginalised; they have been much misunderstood, being really 'affirmative' about their 'faith.' All right, I made up the first bit ....

But two points  emerge even from the diabolically vacuous and misleading statement issued by the group concerned; and it's curious, isn't it how so much modern talk about 'diversity' and 'tolerance' is so easily manipulated to justify the amoral and the indefensible?
Firstly, the group worships ...  Satan.
And if that weren't enough, its central rituals are designed to be open and explicit mockeries of the Mass, including real or pretended desecration of the Eucharistic species.

There's not a great deal of elbow room there for anything very affirmative, one might think - the movement's very raison d'etre is hatred and sneering derision of the faith of others,  its 'liturgical'  formulae consisting entirely of hate-speech.
As they say, get around that one ..... 

But none of this matters, since they tell us "offense (sic)  is anachronistic" - Really?  I would have thought the whole modern rights culture behind which this less than worthless group is sheltering is based precisely upon a morbid fear of people taking offence, often intervening to impose  a heavy-handed degree of censorship even where no offence is intended. In this case, of course, offence is at the very heart of the story and very much intended.
'Satanists' are very fortunate that their 'religion' is not designed to be a mockery of Islam ....

Friday 9 May 2014

A bizarre and disturbing tale for the end of the week

You couldn't make it up - you would think - yet increasingly we seem to live in the pages of a Charles Williams novel. From the U.S.A.  - this report appeared a couple of days ago in The Boston Globe [here]: 
"The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has condemned plans by an independent student group of the Harvard Extension School to stage a historical reenactment of a satanic ritual that mocks the Catholic Mass.
The group, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, says its reenactment of the so-called black mass is intended as an educational activity to provide history, context, and the origin of the ritual as part of a student-led series exploring different cultures. The group said the event, planned for Monday, is not designed to insult religious traditions.
 That reassurance did not mollify the archdiocese, which on its Facebook page issued a statement expressing “deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a ‘black mass’ on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.”
“For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship,” the archdiocese said. “This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.....”
"......... A black mass is an often obscene mockery by satanic cults of the Mass performed in the Catholic Church. The ritual, for example, might substitute the bare back of a woman for an altar. To complete the desecration, the black mass generally uses a consecrated host, the bread or wafer blessed at Mass that Catholics believe is the body of Christ.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club said its re-enactment will use a piece of bread, but not a consecrated host. [But see here
“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices,” the students’ statement said. “This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.”
The archdiocese, in its statement, asked the university to disassociate itself from the reenactment. While stopping short of endorsing the event, the Harvard Extension School said that it supported “the rights of our students and faculty to speak and assemble freely....”
"This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture." 
Of course it is....

The time was when the aficionados of these kind of perverted, dangerous and sacrilegious activities were rightly fearful of public exposure, and confined their activities to the relative privacy of their own lonely forest clearings and bat-haunted caves. Now, it seems,  they form part of 'cultural studies' on the campus of one of the world's most prestigious universities. 
Impressive ...

Although ..... the one crumb of comfort we can take away from this bizarre story of social progress is that rather disingenuous statement from the Harvard Extension School that it upholds “the rights of our students and faculty to speak and assemble freely.”  Given the ambivalent, if not actively hostile, attitude of many academic establishments in the West towards those who take a stand against contemporary cultural trends, that statement is well worth remembering for the future ....

Thursday 8 May 2014

'Halal' - whether you like it or not ...?

It seems that many of us have - unknowingly - been eating 'halal meat' for some time [here] Putting the issue - far from clear in itself -  of animal welfare and humane slaughtering (and rearing?) practices on one side, whereas no one should have any objection to those of other faiths being permitted to follow their ritual dietary requirements - a necessary condition of the liberty we so treasure (no irony intended, honestly), it does seem to be taking the principle too far for businesses to impose those requirements upon the rest of us, particularly without our knowledge or consent - again more proof, if it were needed,  that market economics is only as moral, or conducive to freedom, as the culture in which it is situated and by which it is influenced.

We should be very wary, of course, of using the issue of animal welfare to attack specifically 'religious' methods of slaughter; some of the meat on sale in our supermarkets (chicken particularly, but there are other examples) has been produced in conditions which are frankly scandalous and revolting to everyone. No, this is a matter of freedom and the free availability of the information necessary to make informed choices. 

Having said that, accusations of bigotry and intolerance directed at those who highlight these issues should not be used as a smokescreen to obscure an observable,  growing Islamisation of our culture, already it seems [here] becoming evident in some state schools and the legal system, opposition to which should unite Christian and secularist alike because of its negative implications both for the equal rights of women in our society and for social cohesion itself.

On the specific issue of slaughter, as many commentators have pointed out, Christians have no dietary laws per se (apart from the fasting required on certain days of the calendar and the laudable exclusion of meat on Fridays) although on a strict, if selective and uncatholic, reading of the New Testament * (yes, I know, no more black pudding etc...) eating food 'sacrificed to idols' may at least be for us a questionable practice. 

However, as regards the consumption of 'halal' meat, it would be good to be given the choice - or at least the information on which to make that choice - before vegetarianism becomes an irresistible option ... 

[* Acts 15.29; 1 Corinthians 10:28; 8:10-13; Romans 14:21]

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Miscellanea - Bob Dylan, Trojan Horses and drug deals in May ...

Perhaps Bob Dylan wasn't as 'into' the 60s as the 60s were into Bob Dylan - an interesting insight from First Things [here
Pity the culture which assumes the word 'stoned' only has a narcotic meaning ...

A delightfully scholarly post on the subject of May in medieval literature - from A Clerk of Oxford [here]

Catholicity and Covenant bemoans the Archbishop of Canterbury's failure to articulate a Catholic theology of priesthood [here]. I have a degree of sympathy, all things being equal, with what he says, but I will refrain from making the obvious comments ...

The Astra Zeneca - Pfizer affair [more here] . Forgive my naivety, but doesn't the clue to the British national interest lie in the fact that the American drug company wishes to consume its rival.
An end to competition is bad for scientific research and bad - and costly in more ways than one - for the public health. At the risk of sounding like a Marxist (heaven forbid), the suppression of competition by industry predators is one of the contradictions of a globalised market ...

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini,  speaks out against the assisted suicide bill [here]
"... Unfortunately we know from experience how easily public opinion can be manipulated, especially using ‘emotional’ arguments that try to move compassionate sentiments. But once we open this ‘Pandora’s box’ we know as well the horrible consequences that follow...."
Would that the Anglican synodically governed hierarchy (who keeps whom captive there, one wonders?) -  indeed, including those who control the agenda of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales -  had a similarly consistent insight; but then,  the keeping of promises and respect for the eternal value of human life ... sort of go together ... don't they ... ?

There has been a great deal of comment about the 'Trojan Horse'  possible Muslim fundamentalist infiltration of Birmingham schools - this is the refreshingly honest view of a parish priest who actually ministers there: 'What I didn't know in Holy Week' from the Vicar of Purgstall  

Anti-social social media: watch this: it has a point (... I type on my computer keyboard...)
Although, I say facetiously, the English have rarely spoken to strangers in public, most particularly on public transport. 

Boko Haram and the ideological collusion of the left

There's a good article by Nick Cohen [here] at The Observer / Guardian's 'comment is free' column on the subject of the western left's silence in the face of Islamic terrorism in Nigeria and elsewhere on the African continent. He makes some good points, but we could go even further and say that their new selective vision (the old set of blinkers blotted out the enormities of totalitarian communism) is not only, as part of  contemporary left-liberal cultural self-hatred, a refusal to confront the barbarism of radical Islam, but a reluctance to say anything in response to violence directed against those who follow the Christian faith. We have seen exactly the same response to the conflict in Syria.

An abandonment of the Christian legacy of the championing of liberty in favour of the coercive politics of atomised sexual narcissism will almost inevitably have that result. 
"As you can see, English does not lack plain words to describe the foulness of the crimes in Nigeria, and no doubt they would be used in the highly improbable event of western soldiers seizing and selling women.
Yet read parts of the press and you enter a world of euphemism. They have not been enslaved but "abducted" or "kidnapped", as if they will be released unharmed when the parties have negotiated a mutually acceptable ransom. Writers are typing with one eye over their shoulder: watching their backs to make sure that no one can accuse them of "demonising the other".
Turn from today's papers to the theoretical pages of leftwing journals and you find that the grounds for understanding Boko Haram more and condemning it less were prepared last year.
Without fully endorsing Boko Haram, of course, socialists explained that it finds "resonance in the hearts of many poor and dispossessed" people, who are revolted by "the corruption and flamboyant lifestyle of the elites". Islamism is recast as a rational reaction to local corruption and the global oppression of "neoliberalism", one of those conveniently vague labels that can mean just about anything...." 
Read it all ... and pray for the girls abducted and enslaved ....

An eyewitness report of the attack from a survivor [here] - at least parts of the western media appear to be waking up to reality ... 

Monday 5 May 2014

'The slow death of purposeless walking'

Here's an article almost designed for a fine British bank holiday Monday - from the BBC : 'The slow death of purposeless walking' [here]
As someone who has done quite a lot of purposeless walking in my time (and the occasional more purposeful journey) it strikes a chord:
"..Henry David Thoreau, who was both author and naturalist, walked and walked and walked. But even he couldn't match the feat of someone like Constantin Brancusi, the sculptor who walked much of the way between his home village in Romania and Paris. Or indeed Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul at the age of 18 inspired several volumes of travel writing. * George Orwell, Thomas De Quincey, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bruce Chatwin, WG Sebald and Vladimir Nabokov are just some of the others who have written about it.
CS Lewis thought that even talking could spoil the walk. "The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared."
The way people in the West have started to look down on walking is detectable in the language. "When people say something is pedestrian they mean flat, limited in scope...."  
The heyday of walking seems to have been the Edwardian era, with writers such as Edward Thomas, Chesterton and Belloc all taking to the rolling English road, and the inns along the way. 
One thing seems to be true: in an increasingly urbanised and, despite the ritual genuflections to 'diversity,'  highly conformist culture, as we lose the willingness and even perhaps the ability to walk, we also risk the loss of the possibility of independent thought ....  
* "....The land changed a lot between Zographos and Chilandari. The evergreen valleys have been left behind and replaced by heather-clad highlands, shaded by fir and oak woods, and the rock underfoot has turned to sand and gravel. The whole scene reminded me of Scotland. The day was wonderful, not a cloud in the sky, and the birdsong was filled with optimism and the promise of spring. A bright-winged jay screeched at my approach, and a whirring cloud of woodpigeons burst from a giant ilex. High overhead a hawk hovered, casting his wavering shadow on a stretch of bare sand. The pathway nearly always followed a water-course, and sometimes the going was torment, as the recent gales and snow have mangled or uprooted innumerable bushes and saplings. This meant crawling underneath on all fours, or clambering over mountains of shrubbery, no easy task when each twig is festooned with a mesh of spined brambles and creepers as strong as wire. That hallowed neighbourhood soon re-echoed to savage blasphemies. Perspiring and aching, I climbed at last to a higher point, commanding the surrounding country, and there below, basking in the noonday sun, lay the Serbian monastery of Chilandari, the faded tiles of the lichen -coated roofs appearing above feathery treetops; in one wall a tall battlemented tower overlooked the courtyard, with the four leaded Byzantine domes of the church and three cypresses, almost as high as the tower itself. Fold on wooded fold descended into the valley, like a wide staircase, and not so far away the blue sea glittered ..... "  
from Patrick Leigh Fermor's  The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos " (2013) - the completion from his diaries of his epic journey - edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper

Music by another confirmed walker - E.J. Moeran's Overture for a Masque:

The Ulster Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley

Sunday 4 May 2014

Arnold: Symphony No 5

The broodingly lyrical second movement (Andante con moto, Adagio) of Malcolm Arnold's 5th Symphony (1961) - an unjustly neglected work, described by one critic as "a study in disintegration". The second movement's main theme reappears in the finale to devastating effect ... music for our times ...

The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Hickox

Saturday 3 May 2014

The Perfect Fool

Gustav Holst's ballet music.
For once, not an ironic reference to  .... anything at all (with a title like that what possible scope could there be unless it were a reference to those of us who clearly seem to delight in the championing of lost causes...?) 

No - just because I happen to like it ...

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Richard Hickox

Moment of triumph ...?.

From the BBC [here]

"A procession through London has been held to celebrate 20 years since the first women were ordained as priests in the Church of England.
Hundreds of women priests and supporters marched from Westminster Abbey to St Paul's Cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told those gathered at St Paul's the CofE still had a "long way to go"...."

As Robert Pigott stated in the BBC Radio 4 news bulletin this evening, this was indeed their moment of triumph. 
Of course unmentioned - indeed, unmentionable now perhaps, such is the deference accorded the anniversary - is the fact that for the work of ecumenism what happened in 1994 was a unmitigated disaster, and we can be sure that the less-than-glorious-revolution in the Anglican world is far from over yet.
Today's church is smaller, more secularised and, paradoxically, less relevant to people's lives than ever before ... 

A procession through the streets of London - a kind of photographic negative (a dark parody, certainly, even if unintentional) of the Anglo-Catholic Congresses?

Friday 2 May 2014

I don't buy it ...

There have been some critical comments in the last few days about Forward in Faith's stance on the subject of same-sex 'marriage' blessings.
Damian Thompson's take on the matter in The Telegraph is predictably snide, even ending up by hinting at some kind of undefined reconciliation with Affirming Catholicism - in itself a borrowed barb:
"...But the English bishops associated with Forward in Faith and the Society of St Hinge and St Bracket (or whatever it's called) are not keen to be drawn on the subject – except to affirm the Church's traditional teaching on marriage...." [here]
Damian Thompson is, of course, no friend to Anglo-Catholics in whatever guise they may appear  - I seem to remember at least one well-loved and respected person now high in the councils of the Ordinariate feeling the lash - or is it flick - of his aspiringly Waugh-like quill a few years back. 
However, the article by Fr Stephen Keeble in this month's New Directions *  (via Anglican Mainstream), which Mr Thompson quotes for support for his opinions, is an altogether more serious contribution and deserves to be quoted at greater length:
"...The Society’s bishops’ statement begins with a declaration of their pastoral and teaching office as stewards of the mysteries of God, yet in declining to affirm the Church’s teaching on this important matter they have added to the confusion and uncertainty within the ranks of the
Society’s supporters and exposed it to serious questioning concerning its claims to catholicity. One is inevitably drawn to the conclusion that the Council of Bishops’ contrivance to say as little as possible is the key to understanding its position.
The purpose of the Society, according to its website, is ‘to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England’. Forward in Faith, on its homepage, is said to be ‘committed to the catholic faith as the Church of England received it’ and to ‘long for the visible unity of Christ’s Church, and especially for communion between the Church of England and the rest of the Western Church’. The translation of these declarations into anything approaching practical reality would entail doctrinal clarity and coherence, and a focused dedication to the ecumenical goal....."  [page 27ff] 
Many of us would agree. And for that very reason I don't buy into the argument that the Bishops of the Society are shifting (or can shift with any integrity) their position. It would make complete nonsense of their determination to hold fast to Catholic order if they were to give such substantial ground in terms of Catholic moral theology - and the blessing of even "'‘faithful’ and ‘covenanted’ same-sex relationships" would do precisely that ...  it would also, of course, introduce into our own ranks precisely the degree of anarchy which is set to tear the Anglican Provinces in Britain apart... 

Yet, of course 'doctrinal clarity and coherence' do not, as Pope Francis reminds us, prescribe the intemperate denunciation of those who, along with all of us, stand in need of God's mercy and forgiveness, however unsatisfactory their beliefs and lifestyles may appear in the light of the wider catholic tradition.  On that basis alone the recent statement of the Bishops of the Society [also here - page 19] is enough.

* Thereby giving the lie to those who would regard the publication as irredeemably conciliatory to the Establishment and lost to necessary controversy and essential debate.