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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Balderdash!

"Women priests are treated as second-class Christians, suffering from institutionalised sexism and racism within the Church of England, female clergy claim." Well they would claim that, wouldn't they? That is the whole thrust of their argument. What utter balderdash. Even the Church of England, hell-bent on creating women bishops denies that: "The church does treat men and women equally...It is true that a higher proportion of women have tended to serve in self-supporting rather than stipendiary posts.... Decisions are made on the basis of their individual situation and not on the basis of their sex; much depends on their personal circumstances as well as their aptitudes."



But never mind the facts. This shabby campaign has little to do with religion and everything to do with secular feminism with their aim of "achieving equality within its ranks". In a Parliamentary debate on Women in the Church of England yesterday, Diana Johnson MP opened by "[paying] tribute again to the women and men who have been fighting for justice and equality in the Church of England for many years". She spoke about the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equality Act 2010, international women’s day, the suffragette campaign, and "the legislation in relation to women priests [which] went through in November 1992, but it specifically said that women could not become bishops"


No impediment there of course, merely the opportunity for another campaign. Contrary to the assertions that women priests are treated as second-class Christians, Ms Johnson stressed that: "There are now 3,000 women priests. The talents and abilities of both women and men are now being recognised and utilised by the Church. There are four female deans of cathedrals and many others in senior roles." Surely Ms Johnson would not mislead the House!


There was no surprise to see Sir Peter Bottomley quipping his way through the debate to make the point: "However, from 1928 to now, we have had arguments over the ordination of women as deacons rather than deaconesses and the decision, eventually, to ordain women as priests. Now we come to the decision—this could have been taken at the same time as the decision to ordain women as priests, but out of kindness to the last ditchers it was deferred —about women being ordained as bishops [my emphasis - Ed].


The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry) made an interesting point: "Leaving nothing to chance, I have already had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons. Using the precedent of what happened in respect of the Measures for ordaining women as deacons and priests, it is deemed to be appropriate to consider this Measure on the Floor of the House, rather than upstairs in Committee. The understanding that I have reached with the Leader of the House is that we will set aside half a day—we hope, some time in November—to approve the Measure in this House. It has to be approved separately in the House of Lords, and I hope that it will do similarly. If the Measure is approved by General Synod in July, it is my ambition to do everything possible to have it pass all its legislative stages before the end of this year. We would therefore hope to see the first women bishops appointed as early as 2014." 


In her opening speech Ms Johnson remarked: "As I said, the draft Measure goes to the House of Bishops in May, and it can amend the reforms as it sees fit. If it does, that would be unacceptable to WATCH [my emphasis -Ed] and most senior women [can't be second-class then], because it would change the episcopacy in ways that would undermine the Church’s integrity and mission, as well as limiting female bishops’ ministry too far."


So it is all laid out. Carefully crafted claims that women bishops will be second-class bishops unless WATCH have their way and exclude all who disagree with them. Ms Johnson spoke of a 'broad church' but not broad enough to accommodate 'yesterday’s people', or Sir Peter's 'last ditchers' as they refer to their fellow Anglicans. Dishonour, deception and outright balderdash is the recipe for change 'to serve the people of today and tomorrow'. It almost makes one glad to be un-churched.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The women who oppose female bishops




It is rare to read of opposition to women bishops when the trendy think they have a monopoly on truth. Never mind that they do not understand the argument, substituting secular values to fill the theological vacuum they so readily display.

How refreshing then to read of the stand taken by Emma Forward in a Guardian article yesterday. Emma nails the lie that Women and the Church (WATCH) accurately represent the Anglican tradition. WATCH may represent some women in the church, principally themselves, with their distorted view of Christianity that puts self above everything but they do not represent the many thousands of women who put faith above personal ambition. Predictably Christina Rees takes up her 'mightier than the sword' pen: "The impression I often have of these women is that they are highly intelligent and in positions of authority in their own profession. A lot of them show signs of leadership but it feels wrong to them to have female priests. If they had been formed in a different church tradition they themselves would be ordained or they would be in a position of leadership in their own church."

How condescending. If Ms Rees and her chums had formed a different church rather than invade the Anglican Church to peddle their secular wares before our limp liberal clergy we wouldn't be in the sort of mess we find ourselves today. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

For the beauty of the earth



These days I don't watch much television with programmes such as Prisoners Wives  offered as 'Entertainment' - (Lou  vows to give up her life of crime for Mason's sake [!], Gemma helps the police build the case against her husband, and Francesca reluctantly attends marriage guidance with Paul).

How refreshing, then, to watch Bees, Butterflies and Blooms last night. All the gloom and doom reports about dwindling food supplies because of the loss of bees and other pollinating insects appeared to be solved simply by reverting to the beauty of the earth while saving money and scarce resources in the process. In one poll, the lavish, structured floral display created by Birmingham Council Parks Department came a poor second to the natural 'meadow' planting which attracted numerous bees, butterflies and other insects where the structured display did not. No more endless grass cutting and constant watering of plants which repel the insects we need for our survival. Just the simple beauty of the earth.

Some years ago I had the temerity to venture the opinion that I missed the boy treble voices that had formed most of our church choirs. I was immediately set upon for being sexist and failing to move with the times! Years later virtually everything has been turned on its head. Who would have believed when I made that casual remark that in years to come a nominally Christian, Tory Prime Minister of our nation would undermine the Holy Sacrament of Marriage in the guise of equality?

What in God's name are these people doing to us, changing everything that was already beautiful and freely given, and for what? "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lent: Always we begin anew


Photo credit Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes." Daniel 9:3


Anglicans who regard themselves as 'Catholic and Reformed' face a new dilemma this Lent now that the Anglican Church which provided the middle way for them declared itself to be hell-bent on reducing the once great Established Church of England to the status of a protestant sect on the wane. 


John Henry Newman was a committed Anglican who made a conscious decision to leave the Church of England and tread a new path to spiritual fulfilment. Today, for many cradle Anglo Catholics, the way is not so clear cut after finding that their church has left them, creating a sense of abandonment

The Personal Ordinariate launched under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman is the obvious starting point for those seeking a new spiritual home in the Apostolic Church. For Anglo Catholics able and willing to make the journey, this 
Lent will have an added poignancy as they strive to reconcile their 'reformed' beliefs with the demands that separate them from their Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Failure to do so will leave them effectively un-churched. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

It is finished




"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.


The Church of England has been reminded in various Synod debates this week that the timeless faith of believers has little relevance in their 21st Century church. Weighed down by complexities of their own making designed to appeal to those with imported beliefs or none at all, they cast their votes leaving the Lord's disciples to make of it what they will with no hint of thought or compassion.

'Give me the child...I'll give you the man' was the cry of old but the male role model, already whittled away in primary education, is declining in the Anglican church along with attendance while the influence of the Anglican Church wanes. Sexuality over reason has seen Christian marriage devalued to the level of a political ball game which takes all and gives nothing with the implication that there must be something seriously wrong with people who share spiritual values beyond current 
flights of fancy. Who cares? Those men and women of conscience who do so are characterised as misogynistic bigots. They are forced to defend themselves against false accusations of discrimination clearly designed to appeal to secularists who see no place in society for a church that shaped our history; people who are content to see mosques replace our churches in the misguided belief that Islam is, as one commentator put it, just another 'Old Testament religion' or an Arabic version of the Bible. Traditional Christian values are being destroyed. The extremists who occupy our church insist that they are being generous as they strangle the life out of all who oppose them. They show utter contempt for those who do not share their distorted values and reward those who have shown them generosity by excluding them from the church they now see as their own.

The women at the cross stood weeping under Christ's broken Body as His garments were divided. In today's Anglican Church they simply divide His garments among themselves.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Lifebelt


Picture: DAVE PERRY 



Church of England general synod debates female bishops - day three live @17.58. Riazat Butt thanks God she is a Muslim. Here is what she had to say:


"Wow. OK. Well, in true Anglican fashion we are almost back to square one. General synod has voted to allow the House of Bishops to tinker with the legislation but not make substantial changes to it. As one person in the chamber said, it's as if the debate never happened. The traditionalists have this to say:

"We welcome the fact the general synod is open to the possibility of the House of Bishops amending the draft measure, and call upon the house to do so in a way that will provide properly for those unable in conscience to accept the oversight of women bishops. The archbishops' amendment is a long way from our original proposals for provision; what we are saying is that we are willing to work with it, or something like it, for the sake of the unity of the church. We are hugely grateful to Archdeacon Cherry Vann for moving the Manchester motion; she has shown great understanding, courage, conviction and love – love for God and for God's people. We give thanks to God for Archdeacon Cherry, and assure the House of Bishops of our prayers as they discern the right way forward for the Church of England."

Initial reaction from the pro-women lobby is that they are happy because they know the bishops can't dramatically change the draft law. They're not going to see a different law, that's over and that's what they wanted to avoid. It's all baffling. Thank God I'm a Muslim."

So not dead yet! Despite the eagerness of supporters of women's ordination to move directly to a vote without amendment amid the usual claims of discrimination, two-tier ministries and second class-bishops, the more charitable struggle on to find a compromise that is in some way acceptable to people who don't interpret 'generous' in the same way as those who advocate a 'take it or leave it' approach. On my hearing there may have been a hint of sarcasm in the suggestion that the Rev Prebendary David Houlding had been thrown a lifebelt but nevertheless that imagery is captured superbly in the picture above. As they consider the next stage, those on both sides of the divide would do well to read the narrative that goes with it here and recall Archbishop Rowan's words in an earlier passionate debate on Recent violence in Nigeria when he referred to the desperate feeling of isolation experienced by persecuted Christians in Nigeria. They are not alone.


Monday, 6 February 2012

The plain truth




“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." John 10: 14-16

Two thousand years later, 'Anglican women clergy are to rally in Westminster later at a march supporting plans to introduce women bishops' - BBC News - the culmination, they hope, of their campaign of self interest. Never mind the torment, the acrimony, the divisions; even the evidence. Nothing matters more than achieving the feminist goal of women bishops.

Writing for Ekklesia in favour of the move with customary secular feminist fervour, Savi Hensman makes an excellent case for its rejection. It is so far removed from the voice of Jesus that her plea would be laughable were in not so serious, particularly for women and men who see their church being stolen from them for political ends. 



I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me. 

Friday, 3 February 2012

Church of England to reject Women Bishops




A resounding NO to the ordination of women is the decision of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church, the universal Body of Christ from which the Church of England seems hell-bent on separating itself, not over any deep-rooted theological dispute regarding our Creed, but for secular reasons, specifically, misplaced feminism. If proof were needed, consider the opinion of one of the front runners predicted to be the first woman bishop in the Church of England, the Rev Lucy Winkett, who 'writes, speaks and debates on a wide range of issues reflecting on culture, gender and religion', presumably in that order. Read her account of 'A Half Changed Church' here. I shall pick-up on only one point, although I could challenge all. When the Rev Lucy Winkett writes about "A distinctive Christian women’s contribution to the current debates in society" she makes  five points for the benefit of her WATCH audience, the second of which I find the height of hypocrisy: 


"Second: a sense that sacrifice is not a dirty word, even though it might be incomprehensible to a self-satisfied society. A conviction that when it is chosen freely, we witness to the love of God for all humanity." [My emphasise - Ed] 


That conviction of self-sacrifice does not extend to themselves. Out of pure self-interest they ignore the beliefs of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches with whom we are united at the very time they move together to fulfil Christ's prayer for unity. So much for the witness of WATCH.

In a breath-taking piece of arrogance in the Telegraph article linked above, prejudging the vote of Synod, the faith-by-numbers Bishop of Oxford described the ordination of women to the episcopate as 'inevitable'. No matter that Christ, the New Covenant, defined the Way, the Bishop and his chums have to second guess Christ's example and do things their way. But more disappointingly, the subject of the article, the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev John Hind, who has led opposition to ordaining women as bishops also said that it was now 'certain to happen', perhaps forgetting that the only certainty is death when we all shall have to answer to God for our misdeeds. Better then to remain true to our Baptismal promise to:

"Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ
against sin, the world and the devil,
and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life."

What is wrong is wrong. Women bishops in the Church of England may appear to be a political reality in terms of gender politics but this has no part in faith, the faith that has sustained men and women for two millennia until a self appointed group of feminists decided to usurp the authority of mother church. In a recent blog entry I wrote about the treatment of a highly respected priest and former Additional Curates Society Chairman, the Very Rev Jeremy Winston. In a Telegraph obituary he was referred to as "the best bishop the Church in Wales never had". In fact he had been told in no uncertain terms that "there is no place for you in this church." Read a moving tribute here. It illustrates the attitude of the Church in Wales towards those whose conscience does not accord with the tunnel-vision views of their Archbishop, views more extreme than those of the Archbishop of Canterbury who at least has made some effort to honour pledges given when women were accepted for ordination to the priesthood. All the liberal propaganda about wasting talents can be seen for what it is when one of the Anglican Church's brightest stars can be eclipsed by secular political correctness.


Generosity is a word that trips easily from the tongues of the liberal elite. Bishop Pritchard says, "I think the code of practice is a generous, rigorous way of making sure that bishops honour both those who want women bishops and those many fewer people who disagree with it in conscience and I think the code of practice interpreted properly by bishops will be more than adequate to do that." Fr Edward Barnes unpacks these meaningless, self-serving assertions here.


As our Church slips evermore towards obscurity, the latest liberal cause célèbre to hit the headlines is the report that one hundred clerics in the diocese of London have signed a letter stating that they should have the right to host civil partnerships on grounds of “individual conscience”, just as they can choose to marry divorcees in their churches. The protesters ignore warnings of the descent of the Anglican Church exemplified in the US, dismissing them with a fleeting, 'Oh that's America, it couldn't happen here!'. I doubt that the Archbishop of York sees it that way having come under attack for his views on the meaning of marriage with one protester handcuffing himself to a lamppost like a modern day suffragette with a sign at his feet bearing the words “Homophobia is so gay”, illustrating how twisted protesters misrepresent Christian values. In common with many Christians, Dr Sentamu welcomes civil partnerships but insists that the state does not have any power to 'change the long-settled definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman'. 


We are all made in the image of God so it is understandable that we all want to be respected but to respect one another does not imply sameness. God's creation sees male and female coming together as one flesh in the sacrament of marriage for the procreation of children. To pretend other is a disservice to those who championed the cause of civil partnerships despite some misgivings that the 'progressive' brigade would soon want more than was asked for, a not unfamiliar situation in today's church. Speaking before the Washington state legislature hearings on the definition of marriage in, Washington, on the subject "Redefine marriage and history will not be kind to you", Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse said, 'Let me remind you that a vast majority of African Americans completely reject same sex marriage. They are deeply offended by the high-jacking of the moral authority of their civil rights movement'. [My emphasis Ed]. Her profound witness to the love of God through the sanctity of marriage can be read here.


The place of women in the Universal Church has been distorted for political ends. There is no discrimination of women in the Apostolic Church. Women 'choosing freely' do 'witness to the love of God for all humanity', a view exemplified by Doctor, lawyer and theologian, Priscilla Noble-Mathews in a broadcast linked here, testimony that this is our church, this is our faith, the faith that binds us to the Holy Catholic Church which says NO to women bishops.