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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Hope and despair

Following his pilgrimage of prayer there is an interesting BBC interview with Justin Welby here as he prepares to be placed in the Anglican hot seat. As ever the headline indicates that sex is the main focus of media attention but this obsession masks a broader understanding of what it means to Abp Welby to be a Christian and an Anglican in particular. 

Less encouraging is the Archbishop's fatalistic 'conviction' that the role of Archbishop of Canterbury will eventually be held by a woman, something that his predecessor alluded to. The BBC's coverage of the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis conveyed a similar approach to religion from a secular perspective with emphasis on the role of women in the church in an age of so-called equality. This conveys a lemming-like inevitability that must be resisted if we are to avoid the example of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in the United States.


I was on the school run today so I missed what was described afterwards by Jane ('Um') Hill in the BBC News headlines as the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be enthroned by a woman.  I managed to catch the beginning and the end of the service. True to form 'Auntie's' guests were, in order of introduction, the retired Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch KCVO, Christina Rees - introduced as a member of the Archbishops' Council - and the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, parish priest, 'Loose Canon' and former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, all of which was enough to make Mrs Briton retire from the room in despair. As readers will know Ms Rees is the ex-WITCH WATCH spokesmanperson who is determined to see Christianity adapt to her way of thinking. Asked for her thoughts she trotted out the usual feminist approach to Christianity, women first, Jesus Christ second as she continues to press for women bishops regardless of the occasion and Abp Welby's constant stress on reconciliation. 

Unlike the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis commentators could not complain of the absence of women. First, looking very pleased with herself, was the new Archbishop's Chaplain, the Rev Dr Jo Bailey Wells, as was the Archdeacon of Canterbury who, in the Mail Online picture caption is described as "Presiding: Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury, enthroned Mr Welby as a bishop". I didn't see the Presiding Bishop in the throng but I glimpsed her disciple the Archbishop of Wales behind the throne, a position no doubt he regards as his being one of the CNC selectors.

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