Wednesday 10 August 2016

Progress in Wales?

Credo Cymru (Forward in Faith Wales) is to be congratulated on its forthcoming conference, 'That Nothing be Lost' (September 21st - 22nd), being held in order to explore how much common ground exists between those who support and those opposed to the admission of women to all three orders of the sacred ministry of the Church.
As we all know, of late, the atmosphere in Wales has differed radically from that now prevailing in the Church of England, where there is considerable evidence of a commitment on all sides to the 'mutual flourishing' of both integrities.
The timing of the conference is especially brave, given the fact that the retirement of that most politically adroit and astute opponent of traditionalists, the Archbishop of Wales himself, will not take place until January 2017.
There will be invited lay and clerical representatives at the conference from the Church in Wales and the Church of England, including the Archbishop of Wales and the Bishop of St Asaph.

Your prayers are asked for the Conference and its participants, that it will be a means of progress towards unity and greater understanding among those of differing views on the future of Anglicanism in the Welsh Province.

This particular foot soldier of the faith will, before and during the time of the Conference, be once again walking as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. Prayers will be offered for the unity of all Christians at the shrine of the first Apostolic Martyr of the faith and along one of the pilgrim routes to Galicia which did much to forge the unity of Christian Europe.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Postscript 2016

Walking through the village, wearing my cassock this morning, I was approached by a woman I know who was walking her dog. Born in France, but half-British, she told me she has never felt so displaced and disoriented, not recognising the current atmosphere of the country of her adoption, which, she says, seems to have changed beyond recognition. She now feels a stranger here, and intends to re-apply for a French passport.
I commiserated, not recognising the mood in my country either, and realising that the future seems to belong to those of a very different viewpoint. 
We shook hands, she went in one direction and I continued on my way to church in the morning sunshine.
The weather forecast was for rain later.

I should explain: Europe is the great fault-line which now runs across British politics and society. Many of the commentators I read and respect have taken another view altogether on this issue. 
But, as a convinced 'European' since the days of the first referendum in 1975, when although too young to vote, I helped campaign for our membership of the EEC (as it then was), I am in a very small minority in terms of bloggers who post on 'religious' matters, and sometimes the stridency of others' anti-EU stances has appalled me. Because of that I have felt increasingly ill at ease over the last months with the company that, even in a very minor way indeed, I have been keeping.
The founding ideal of the European project was good and noble, bringing together nations riven by warfare and the unspeakable horrors of the twentieth century. We all know that the EU itself has grown and changed, moving away, as all our societies have,  from the Christian Democracy of its founding fathers to a more secularised entity which is reluctant even to acknowledge its Christian roots.
But it is nothing short of a delusion and a mirage to think that Britain outside the European Union will return to a more Christian vision of society and culture. The indications are that the reverse could well be the case. 
Some of the rhetoric directed at the EU by the 'Leave' campaign has been regrettable and, in one case, unforgivable, even in the context of the journalistic hyperbole which is its author's stock-in-trade. Undoubtedly these kind of statements have helped poison the wells of national life, and fuel the incidents now being reported on our streets.
And it's ironic that a campaign to restore the sovereignty of Parliament should adopt the referendum as the means for achieving its goal.  'Direct democracy,'  popular decisions made by referendum and plebiscite, as we are seeing, is - to a far greater degree than the normal workings of representative democracy - something by its nature heavily dependent upon the integrity and truthfulness of those who seek to direct its debates, and the reliability of the information available to those who participate in its processes. 
Moreover, it is capable of unleashing a reckless,  misdirected and incoherent rage which is destructive of the civility of political discourse and inimical to calm and reasonable deliberation. Such an anger has been unleashed. We have not been so divided for generations, nor has our future looked so uncertain.

Perhaps it's time here on this blog to recognise that ....