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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

All roads lead to Rome – except the Anglican one!




What price unity?

It must now be clear to everyone but the blinkered that the wider Catholic and Eastern churches regard the Church of England as in error. The ambitions of a few frustrated women who have ignored Christ’s prayer that we all may be one have put self above church wrecking the possibility of unity which Christianity yearns for, aided by the Church of England hierarchy.

Before the Synod vote to allow women to enter the Episcopate, many women protested that failure to grant the demands of WATCH would lead to a mass exodus to other churches. What price loyalty? Their secular regard for equal opportunities clearly means much more to them than sacramental assurance.

Some Anglo-Catholics are already in the lifeboats hoping for a safe arrival in their promised land but while details are awaited, squabbling has broken out between different factions. Apart from being unchristian further fractures could have serious repercussions with secular indifference and the threat to religious freedom posed by the spread of Islam.

‘United we stand, divided we fall’ could never be more apt. Anyone involved in the Synodical process should remember that.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Just as I am?


The euphoria of Pope Benedict’s visit is waning but thanks to the internet it is possible to recapture the historic moments of when “Heart speaks unto heart”. After a number of viewings I am still unable to watch the Holy Father entering Westminster Cathedral at the start of the Papal Mass without a tear in my eye. The processional music enthusiastically suggested the Lord’s coming. It was probably the grandest celebration of the Mass I shall ever witness yet essentially it was the same Mass that I attend as an Anglican but in a far simpler form. That is as far as it goes. What to outsiders we may appear to share actually divides us. To participate fully I have to cross the Tiber but I cannot do that just as I am. Despite attending Mass in the Anglican Church more frequently than many cradle Catholics attend theirs I am not allowed to receive the ‘one bread’ that should unite us. My sacramental life means nothing to Rome so I leave my faith in the hands of God through the Anglo Catholic Church. Could this now change?

The prospect of full church unity has faded into the distance following the breakaway decision of the Anglican Church to ordain women. The Ordinariate offers the opportunity for a degree of unity that Anglo Catholics could only have dreamt of a short while ago. But how difficult will the journey be? Personal circumstances and problems with accepting the full teaching of the Catholic Church will almost certainly mean that the Ordinariate is not an option for many. Some will be tempted to bluff their way through. Clearly not all Catholics follow the teaching of their church and there are those who advocate a ‘fingers crossed’ approach. On the one hand I find that hypocritical but on the other one would be entering a church harbouring many shades of opinion but less tolerant of expression. Perhaps a cynic would say you can get over that hurdle in the confessional.

The Blogsphere has seen much praise and enthusiasm for the Pope’s offer but as yet there has been no detail. Despite this, those who hesitate are pilloried along with catholic bishops who are working for a solution within Anglicanism, even if it is on a temporary basis. The fat lady may have sung, indeed she may continue to sing, but some of us don’t recognise the tune. Who in their right mind in any other walk of life would enter into an arrangement without sufficient information to make a rational judgement?

I pray that the Ordinariate fulfils expectations and that due respect is paid to the integrity of worshippers who ultimately answer to God for their actions. Rome has much in its past to be sorry for. A new beginning would be a fitting resolution to the message “Heart speaks unto heart” but at the end of the day, which ever altar we approach it must be with a clear conscience that we say “O lamb of God, I come”.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

For your prayers...


With elections to Synod getting under-way, we need to hold candidates and electors in our prayers. This is the last chance to right the wrongs of the last Synod and undo the shameful treatment of loyal, orthodox Anglicans. So appalled were our Archbishops at the mistreatment of 'traditionalists' that they put their authority on the line by putting down an amendment that was rejected by the very people the church has done most to help; a sign of things to come unless the secular feminist band-wagon is stopped before it is too late. Many former members must be saddened to have played the feminist tune orchestrated by the bitter women of WATCH who are unable or unwilling to discern Christ's example.

For some orthodox Anglicans it is already too late and they eagerly look forward to the promised land of the Ordinariate. For others it is too difficult or, perhaps through unfortunate circumstances, not an option. For these, and simply for the integrity of the Church of England, provision must be made as promised. Much has made of the role of the Holy Spirit when it suits advocates of the ordination of women. If God helps those who help themselves, some have helped themselves to the detriment of others, contrary to the principles of what they are supposed to stand for.

So now is the time for action. Anyone involved in the Synodical process, must make sure that the 'traditionalist' cause is not lost to the enduring shame on the Church of England.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How is it for you?


Frankly, appalling. 'NICE' teachers calling for pregnancy clinics in schools must live in a world of their own. Do they know nothing of the shortage of midwives scandal endangering the lives of babies resulting from wanted pregnancies.

Granted mothers are mothers and babies are babies deserving the best of attention but 'school midwives' simply sends the wrong message normalising teenage pregnancies to say nothing of scarce resources. If schools are about learning, what are they teaching? I remember my wife picking up a copy of Cosmopolitan which our then teenage daughter brought home from school and was horrified to see 'the position of the month' illustrated as a regular item. The publishers must have realised that young, impressionable girls would be reading their magazine. Now everything is sexualised, even school uniforms. The girls of St Trinian's appeared to be outrageously comic when school girls wore the normal regulation skirts 4" above the knee when kneeling. Now many look as though they have come off the St Trinian's set. How long before sex counsellors join the staff?


Monday, 20 September 2010

Game, set and match?


I watched the election of the new Pope as an interested Anglican but when Pope Benedict appeared on the balcony I had an overwhelming but inexplicable feeling that we were witnessing something truly holy. This is now clear. During Pope Benedict’s official visit to Great Britain the public were treated to the spectacle of a genuinely holy man humbly proclaiming the Christian message and warning of the dangers of putting Man before God.

In Britain we are used to spectacular events with all the pomp and ceremony that the State can muster. That was evidenced by the service of Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey after the Pope’s historic address to Parliament in Westminster Hall. Yet none of this could match the grandeur of the Mass in Westminster Cathedral and the beautiful simplicity of the open-air Mass in Birmingham where Cardinal John Henry Newman was beatified, combined with the evident enthusiasm of their devout young people.

Those who have come into contact with Archbishop Rowan have often fallen under his spell. His natural authority is reinforced by his commanding voice which contrasts dramatically with Pope Benedict’s quiet, but assured conviction. Here is the puzzle. Both men are extraordinarily clever, learned and holy, yet they see things differently. The most sort-after prize is Christian unity but the synodical decision of the Anglican Church to go-it-alone and ordain women has seen probably the best opportunity in generations lost. For Anglicans, the evident joy of the celebrations was tinged with sadness. If only we could have been celebrating unity too! Instead there was the same, sorry spectacle of fellow Christians divided at the altar.

Dialogue will continue but many face an immediate dilemma. The Anglican Church has long provided a haven for those who, like Rowan Williams, have difficulties of conscience about crossing the Tiber. There are those in the Church of England who have ignored their Archbishops’ wishes arguing that making acceptable provision for ‘traditionalists’ would be creating a church within a church, blind to the fact that they are already a church within the Church. If Archbishop Rowan can persuade Synod to match Pope Benedict’s ordinariate offer, something of Anglicanism’s rich heritage can be preserved within the Church of England. If not, it is game, set and match to Pope Benedict.

POSTSCRIPT

I was able to add an interesting postscript to my previous post. Now from The Anglo-Catholic blog there is a helpful piece for those struggling with their consciences about crossing the Tiber here.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

The sound of silence


Who could fail to be moved by the Pope's visit to our shores. Already there have been many special moments. The enthusiasm of young people has been truly inspiring as exemplified by a young student, Paschal Uche, who greeted the Pope on behalf of those who had waited patiently outside Westminster Cathedral as the Mass proceeded inside. But what has struck me most forcibly is the hush of reverence that descends on the multitudes as if sensing the presence of the Lord. What would the typical Anglican priest give for that expectant silence, absent in most Anglican churches.

That difference was mirrored profoundly by two women who were interviewed. First, a Catholic, who despaired that a women could even consider wanting to be a priest protesting that such women showed no understanding of the priesthood. The other, an elderly ordained Anglican woman from Women and the Church, complained that her grandchildren did not want to belong to a church that did not ordain women - the sort of 'I want' attitude the Pope has been warning about.

The overwhelming support the Pope has received suggests that the normally silent majority cherishes what they have, or what little they have left. Activists are busy changing everything for their advantage according to their secular whims. Perhaps it is too late for the Anglican church but not for Christianity as a whole. Divided we fall leaving a vacuum in Britain that others will fill with an ideology that does not tolerate dissension. If that happens we shall all be the losers.

POSTSCRIPT
From my Blog List, "Christ in our midst", this stark warning:

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Freedom of religion for all - except 'traditional' Anglicans


Pope Benedict's official visit to Great Britain has had a good start in Scotland. Faith seemed to matter again, not just Catholicism but faith in general. Even the Government says it will 'do God', whatever that may mean in reality. Religious tolerance is in the air.

President Obama spoke of religious freedom in relation to the proposed mosque near ground zero quoting Thomas Jefferson, among the inestimable of our blessings, also, is that ...of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will.

Article 18 of the universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. This is echoed in the The European Convention on Human Rights.

Her Majesty the Queen ended her speech of welcome to the Pope with the words "Your Holiness, in recent times you have said that ‘religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified’. Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society." My emphasis, but that comes emphatically from from the Defender of the Faith and Head of the Church of England. Only out of step is Synod.



Monday, 13 September 2010

Burning issues


Watching books burn is an unpleasant experience for those old enough to recall newsreel footage of Nazi excesses. With e-books and Library deposits the notion of denying or limiting knowledge to others is a thing of the past in the free world. Now the act is more a gesture of principle or defiance as dangerously demonstrated by the obscure US pastor who caused worldwide uproar by threatening to burn copies of the Koran and encouraging others to do likewise.

Just the suggestion had Islamic people on the streets waving placards and threatening violence particularly against against US troops. There is an odd contradiction here. The pastor had the freedom to exercise free will in a free country but was shackled by public opinion and political pressure. Islamists on the other hand have no qualms about desecrating non-Islamic religious symbols or even killing people just for being Christians.

As we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain we remember those who fought and died in the war against tyranny. Today we face a different tyranny, the threat to freedom of expression. Islamic fundamentalists are succeeding in muzzling everyone but themselves. The slightest hint of criticism is regarded as abuse yet Islamic abuse is rife, particularly in Iran. If as claimed, Islam is a religion of peace, protestors could demonstrate that forcibly by taking up the cause of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning, or is a book, however sacred, more precious than a life?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Water of life - and of death!

In Britain our weather is rarely far from our lips. When it's not a 'Nice day!' it is too hot, too cold, too dry or, more often, too wet.

We can't live without water while too much can cause misery and death. The tragedy that has struck Pakistan has brought this home even more forcefully but for some it is part of the on-going struggle to provide for others what we take for granted. 'Water Aid' is an international non governmental organisation. Their mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities.

Their current campaign "Dig toilets Not Graves" seeks to save the lives of 4,000 children who die every day through the lack of this basic amenity. There are "2.6 billion people worldwide still don't have access to clean, safe toilets – a basic human right.

This is more than an inconvenience. It's a killer. Diarrhoea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

The solution to the problem is simple - safe toilets will save thousands of lives. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be attending a Millennium Development Goals summit in New York to discuss global poverty targets and we are asking him to make building toilets a priority.
We call on our coalition Government to tackle this global crisis and prove their commitment by increasing aid to sanitation and water to £600 million.

Please help us shout so loud the UK Government has to listen. There is no time to lose, so please put your name to our petition right now and together we can work to dig toilets, not graves."

Water Aid is asking for our support by signing a petition by 19 September 2010. You can do so here.

Postscript - Please forward this request to others who will be willing to sign the petition using the email facility below.