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Monday 30 September 2013

The descent of the church

Ride and stride church open day was a "huge success"                                  Photo: Church in Wales

From the Church in Wales web site: Two vicars abseiled down a church tower as hundreds turned out to walk, cycle, jog and horse ride between 13 churches which threw open their doors to the public...“The whole day went brilliantly, everybody got involved and hundreds turned out with all the various events in the churches from the bell ringing to the choir performance and the teddy bear drop being really well supported.”...Father Edwin said, “It was a fabulous day. Lots of people were saying how they had never been inside some of the churches before so it really brought out another layer of people in the parishes – which was exactly what we were aiming to do.”

Why it was thought necessary to wear a chasuble which is associated with the celebration of the Eucharist for this stunt is not clear. Indeed, on health and safety grounds alone, a loose garment capable of being caught in the ropes is singularly inappropriate even going back to its origins as a travelling garment.  

In the ninteenth century another priest, Fr Arthur Tooth, was sent to prison for defending the right to use Eucharistic vestments in the Church of England. 

From A Brief History of the early years of the Society of the Holy Cross: 
"Fr Tooth was born at Swifts Park, Cranbrook, in Kent, on June 17, 1839, and was educated at Tonbridge School, and Trinity College, Cambridge. After several short ministries he accepted the derelict living of St. James's, Hatcham. He repaired and furnished the church and began to draw a congregation. He founded a Community of Sisters and an orphanage, which served as the choir school of the church. His teaching was simple, lucid and definite, and he introduced, within a few years, most of the customs and usages that are normal in moderate churches to-day, but were then considered to be of the essence of Popery. He founded, also, the Guild of All Souls, which lives to this day. Late in 1875, the Church Association moved against Tooth, now a thirty six year old priest and an S.S.C. member for illegal ceremonial. Lord Penzance heard the case and monished Tooth to cease the illegal practices. Tooth ignored the monition as he had ignored the court and declined to obey the three-month inhibition that Penzance announced in December. On 22 January 1877 Tooth was arrested and imprisoned in Horsemonger Gaol for contempt of court l practices." ...

"On the next Sunday there were 700 people present at High Mass" -  There's the real challenge.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Odd one out

Mgr Keith Newton                Abp Barry Morgan              Abp Vincent Nichols

Two belong to the catholic church, the other just says that he does after securing agreement that women priests can be admitted to the episcopate in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in his Province.

Wikipedia: "Catholicism (from Greek καθολικισμός, catholikismos, "according to the whole") is a broad term for describing specific traditions in the Christian churches in theology and doctrine, liturgy, ethics and spirituality. For many the term usually refers to Christians and churches, western and eastern, in full communion with the Holy See, usually known as the Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Church. However, many others use the term to refer to other churches with historical continuity from the first millennium.
In the sense of indicating historical continuity of faith and practice, the term "Catholicism" is at times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look solely to the Bible as interpreted on the principles of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation as its ultimate standard. It was thus used by the Oxford Movement."

Some Anglican Provinces have moved away from Catholicism towards Protestantism while still claiming a catholic identity, perhaps because to look solely to the Bible causes them insoluble problems. Affirming Catholicism is a classic case of serving their own interests. Using the tag "Inspiration and hope in the Anglican Communion" another source explains: "The movement represents a liberal strand of Anglo-Catholicism and is particularly noted for holding that Anglo-Catholic belief and practice is compatible with the ordination of women. It also generally supports ordination into the threefold ministry (bishops, priests, deacons) regardless of gender or sexual orientation". [My emphasis-Ed.]

Similarly, the Society of Catholic Priests draws its membership from Anglican priests who pretend to be part of the Anglo-Catholic tradition while departing from it having seen which way the wind was blowing. They make excuses about their orders not being recognised as though two wrongs make a right and claim to have reconsidered their positions after seeing the pain women suffered by not being accepted for ordination but are incapable of seeing the pain being caused to other women and men who believe that their actions are contrary to the teaching and tradition of the catholic church.

They also conveniently forget what Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher said: “We have no doctrine of our own.  We only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these creeds we hold without addition or diminution.  We stand firm on that rock.”

Others do not. Abp Barry Morgan is the odd one out.

Monday 23 September 2013

You looking at me?

Photo: Global Research

The 'wise' can make compelling cases for just about everything. There is a reasoned defence by a distinguished professor who teaches law, philosophy, and divinity here of women choosing to wear the veil. There are many other opinions with highlights from the New York Times archives here. In Great Britain the general attitude is 'live and let live'.

Whether it is freedom of choice or freedom of religious expression, save for specific security or health care reasons, people in the UK are allowed to wear what they like provided they wear something. Whilst not a religious requirement, claims that wearing the veil is a religious requirement have become commonplace because Muslim scholars disagree on the subject, but claiming religious rather than cultural reasons has the effect of putting the subject off limits as Islamophobia.

In Egypt where Christians have been under constant attack there is a TV channel featuring only fully face-veiled women. But it is not all women. To quote: "There is also a big role for men at the channel. Maria TV’s owner, Ahmed Abdallah, is a prominent Salafist preacher, well known in Egypt for his anti-Christian rhetoric. Abdallah and his son Islam, the channel’s chief executive, were arrested last month for burning a Bible during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11."

Logic suggests that the modesty of these veiled women would be better protected using a radio show instead but then the visual effect of making the veil commonplace would be lost. In areas of Britain where Islamic influence dominates the sight of the niqab no longer raises an eyebrow - see 'Londonistan' here. Meanwhile in areas where Islamisation is in its infancy the veil actually draws attention. There is an element of cultural jihad here. In some instances the veil has become a means of Muslims thumbing their noses to the very people who have welcomed them choosing segregation in preference to integration. The gullible will see no problem with this until they become victims of exclusion in the land of their birth. In many of British cities in Britain, traditional tolerance has resulted in large areas being converted into ethnic ghettos.

'Live and let live' is not an idiom that appeals to Muslims, rather, it is do it our way, or else! While Muslims insist on their rights in this country, Christians abroad are not so fortunate, see here and here. They are not even allowed to practice their religion openly in some countries. Where it is permitted persecution prevails. In Pakistan on Sunday men, women and children not only had their clothes ripped from them but their bodies were ripped apart. This appalling act of barbarism, perhaps because it is only one of many in Muslin countries, has been almost neglected by the media. - Read Cranmer here for a full account - but beware if you are at all squeamish - and VOL here.

There are occasional protests from the Muslim community in response to acts of terror, usually when they feel vulnerable after another Muslim outrage but otherwise attacks by Muslims on non-Muslims around the world are simply brushed aside as the actions of Islamists who do not represent Muslims in general. They may not represent all Muslims but they all subscribe to the same faith which Islamists claim permits atrocities against fellow human beings, indeed, even against fellow Muslims for holding a contrary view to theirs. 

As a gesture of solidarity against Muslim terrorism women tempted to wear the veil could, if only temporarily, demonstrate their solidarity by rejecting it until Muslims eradicate the violence that shames them. Only then they will stop wondering: You looking at me?

Postscript: Veils, segregated schools and why we risk sowing the seeds of Islamic terror in Britain

From an article by Manzoor Moghal  in the Mail Online:

The aim of true multi-racialism should be to promote tolerance, understanding and integration. These are vital qualities if our increasingly diverse society is to function successfully. But while the vast majority of Muslims are tolerant people, the extremists are pushing in precisely the opposite direction. Their eagerness to impose their fundamentalist, alien values is undermining harmony, with suspicion and division rising in their place...

It’s claimed that, in defiance of all British traditions of tolerance, girls and boys are segregated at the school; that even non-Muslim staff are required to wear the hijab, the Muslim headscarf; and that stringed instruments, singing, the telling of fairy tales and even the use of the word ‘pig’ have all been banned. I am a proud Muslim — but I find this appalling. Such superstitious, divisive nonsense should have no place in a British school. We are not living in rural Pakistan or a Taliban-run region in Afghanistan. Apart from anything else, the pupils are being deprived of a proper, rounded education and therefore will not have the same life chances in adulthood.

Under the great English tradition of justice, we are all meant to be equal before the law, regardless of status, wealth or religion. Indeed, it is exactly that genuine equality under the law that has long attracted many migrants to Britain. ... Nothing imposes that sense of alienation more powerfully than the full veil, which is at the centre of a furore over whether it should be tolerated at educational colleges, or worn by hospital staff and defendants in court.

Read full article: here

Saturday 21 September 2013

Unity or division? You decide

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2013 

Quoting the Vatican II document “Lumen Gentium”, Pope Francis reminded new bishops participating in a private audience that “the Bishop is a man of communion and unity, the ‘visible principle and foundation of unity.’”

The pontiff pressed the bishops to ask themselves during their daily work, “how to live the spirit of collegiality and collaboration in the Episcopate” and how “to be builders of communion and unity in the Church the Lord has entrusted” to them.

“They call you and establish you as Pastors not from yourselves, but from the Lord; and not to serve yourselves, but to serve the flock entrusted to you, to serve it even to the point of giving your life, like Christ, the Good Shepherd.”

If they “welcome with magnanimity” and with an open door, those who are in their care, said the Pope, “will experience the paternity of God and understand how the Church is a good mother that always loves and welcomes them.” The Holy Father also imparted to the new bishop’s the necessity to journey with one’s flock, a journey which cannot be completed without affection for his priests and his presence among his people.

Lampeter, Sep 12, 2013

THE Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales will "not please everybody" with a code of practice containing provisions for those who dissent from women bishops, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has said.

Dr Morgan said that he did not know why the issue of women bishops caused so much more anguish than other contentious issues facing the Church. "Some people feel that it is unbiblical, that it is against the tradition, and that we are at variance with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.

"Well, we are at variance with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. If that was the only issue that divided us, I would say: 'Well, let's hang on a minute.' But, of course, the Roman Catholic Church doesn't actually recognise our orders.

Jerusalem, AD 33

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Friday 20 September 2013

First woman bishop in the British Isles imposed by House of Bishops

Bishop elect, the Rev Pat Storey                                                             Photo: PA

From a report in the Telegraph, the Rev Pat Storey, rector of St Augustine's in Derry, has been 'elected' by the Church of Ireland as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare. The appointment was 'passed by the House of Bishops after the Episcopal Electoral College failed to elect a successor in May'.

Picking up the story, Hayley Dixon the Telegraph reporter emphasises the pressure on the Church of England: The Church of England is now increasingly isolated the only Anglican church in the British Isles to remain opposed to the idea, and Mrs Storey's appointment is likely to intensify pressure for the church to resolve its crisis over the issue

I am not sufficiently familiar with the politics of the Church of Ireland, or in Scotland for that matter, but in England and Wales, despite assurances to the contrary, very rarely is anyone appointed to the episcopate unless they subscribe to the current fad for advancing the cause of women's ordination. I have lost count of the number of clergy who changed sides when it became a bread and butter issue rather than Bread and Wine.

A report in the Church Times today puts the recent vote in the Church in Wales in a different light from the claims printed in the official journal Highlights making it look ever more likely as a fix: "The debate on the amendment lasted longer than the debate on the Bill itself. It was passed by 72 votes in favour to 46 against. There were six abstentions...The House of Bishops declined their constitutional right to consult privately before voting, and supported the Bill unanimously." 

A two-stage approach had been endorsed by the Governing Body last September but an amendment tabled by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, replaced those clauses with new ones instructing the Bench of Bishops to agree a code of practice without delay. The fact that the bishops went ahead and voted unanimously for the amended Bill without consultation suggested to some that there had been an element of collusion in the process. I am not surprised.

Click to enlarge
Just a game for some!              Photo: Church Times
After the vote the Archbishop said "we will produce the Code of Practice. That's what the Bill says, that's what we've been entrusted to do, and that is what we will do." From the Church Times report: "In the debate on the amended Bill, the Bishop of St Asaph went through some of the theological arguments against women bishops. "I'm not sure if I find these arguments shocking, or laughable, but it is not a tradition that I can defend....Arguments about complementarity and the representation of the persona Christi  were "essentially modern, and only came to the fore when the older arguments had lost their force", he said. "All this is beginning to look to me like a prejudice looking for a theology rather than a theology governing tradition." Hardly encouraging for those now forced to look to a code of practice. In response Canon Tudor Hughes (St Asaph) argued that the amended Bill took away the opportunity for "members of the Governing Body to explore together effectively the provision that traditionalists need to secure a lasting place in the Church in Wales.

"We were given an assistant provincial bishop: that was removed. We were given a Bill with a second Bill: that was removed. How can we be assured that the code of practice won't be removed? We have been assured that we have an honoured place. It doesn't feel like that."

Next stop the Church of England where the Holy Spirit is being similarly manipulated. Press and public will continue to voice their faithless anger aiding the revisionists to produce their required result. One has to wonder what these people actually believe.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

What should a Code of Practice do?

The Ven. F A Jackson's church received a grant of £500,000 to save the Seven Deadly Sins 
  Credit Clerical Whispers

It is instructive to compare what the Bishop of St Asaph had to say about a code of practice when he proposed the legislation to allow women bishops in the Church in Wales with the long term aim of the amendment mover, Canon Peggy Jackson, as she then was, in her GRAS paper for WATCH in 2009. Bishop Gregory said: "The problems are formidable—there are questions of conscience, of not creating second class bishops, of not creating second class fellowships, of providing fruitful avenues of sacramental and pastoral care for all". Almost encouraging had it not been for the reference to creating second class bishops.

WATCH women constantly make the claim that separate sacramental and pastoral provision would make female bishops second class bishops. Presumably this is a gender fixation because I have not heard any complaints from diocesan bishops about being second class bishops in areas where PEVs have been administering sacramental and pastoral care. The 'second class' bishop claim is a simple ruse which deceives the gullible into believing that a great injustice is being perpetrated because everything has to be 'equal' in today's world, ie, the same. A fuller explanation of mono-episcopacy can be read here. This is a comparatively recent concept which becomes clearer if the earlier meaning of epískopos, 'overseer' is substituted.

The code of practice strategy is a pretence designed to appear fair-minded by implying provision when what is offered is known to be unacceptable putting dissenters in a situation of accept it or leave . Elsewhere in society that would be regarded as pure deception. Nevertheless, the former Treasurer of  the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church, now defunct,  the Ven. Peggy Jackson advocated this strategy in her 2009 WATCH paper summarised thus:

Therefore the Code should:
• be simple
• be mutual (applying equally to both sides, e.g. in the
  Diocese of Chichester)
• introduce no change in the understanding or definition of
• define no special categories of bishops, or differential
  ways of exercising the role of bishop, arising out of issues
  of gender
• be operated and upheld by trust, in preference to law.

Her message is clear but what is galling is that this duplicity comes from a woman who admits that she had no religion until she was welcomed into the church in her hour of need after her husband left her. Such is her gratitude that she is prepared to see cradle Anglicans who welcomed her forced out of their church because they cannot agree with her interpretation of her acquired faith.

Also back in the frame is the Archbishop's last disaster in illjudged senior appointments, the Very (short term) Rev. Janet Henderson. She has emerged from ecclesiastical hibernation to bang the feminist drum again (bang, bangbang here) demanding no surrender in the Church of England. It says much for Dr Morgan that he couldn't achieve his ambition, even with the connivance of his bench sitters, without feminist assistance from outside the Province. On the evidence available it appears that spirituality is not the Archbishop's first consideration which may explain his distaste for orthodoxy and his lack of consideration for worshippers not sympathetic to his revisionist policies.

There is no pretence of care for dissenters from the briefly Dean of Llandaff, just faithless propaganda designed to appeal to the ignorant who are urged to exert pressure on the church even though they ridicule religion and religious practice. From her new blog:
"The Anglican churches of England and Wales need to wake up and realise it is ten to midnight. It is not possible for the church to offer a moral lead when we are so fundamentally caught up in supporting and perpetuating attitudes that devalue and dehumanise women, gay people and victims of abuse. Such collusion with oppression is completely unacceptable to almost everyone in society in the same way that human trafficking and exploiting children as soldiers and for sexual purposes are beyond the pail (but have not always been so). To continue to justify these attitudes seems to most people outside the church contrary to the gospel and makes fools of Christians." And if her view does not prevail, go back to Synod again and again until the sisterhood get their own way. Anyone who doesn't accept their terms can leave. So much for the fruit of the Spirit!

The absurdity of this 'moral' lead is that by implication, it condemns Christ for criminal negligence in failing to see that by appointing only male apostles He condemned women to a lifetime of oppression and sexual abuse. If WATCH women really want to aid the oppressed they should get off their backsides and do something about it instead of attacking the faith of people who have maintained the Anglican church long enough for entrists to abuse them with their absurd claims of discrimination.

So what should a code of practice do?  In GRAS/WATCH terms, first and foremost it must give the impression of generosity. It must ensure that - you have to laugh at this one - introduce no change in the understanding or definition of episcopacy (ie, after they have changed it). It must define no special categories of bishops, or differential ways of exercising the role of bishop - thus effectively nullifying any semblance of sacramental and pastoral care. Don't make it legal in case there is something they haven't thought of to exclude anyone who disagrees with them.

A former Archbishop of Wales said that the devil had been at work when a previous vote on the ordination of women was lost. He was right but not on that occasion. If the promises of the present Archbishop prove to be a sham then the Governing Body vote will be seen as a fraud. In those circumstances a new measure should be put to the Governing Body under a new Archbishop using honesty rather than deception .

Dr Morgan wins, the church loses.Picture: Highlights

Sunday 15 September 2013

Starbucks service

Out of the same mould? Abp Morgan and Canon Wigley enjoying the moment in Lampeter. Photos: BBC

A former Dean of Llandaff was fond of saying that he liked women with balls, ie, loud.  Womanly virtues were secondary.

The vote engineered by the softly-spoken but utterly ruthless Dr Morgan and the vocal Canon Wigley effectively emasculates the Church in Wales. In the words of the Ven. Peggy Jackson who co-sponsored the fatal cut, the Church in Wales has changed for ever. Not just Wales. These women and their sycophantic supporters will stop at nothing to achieve dominance. Calls for equality will evaporate.

Members of  WATCH are eagerly licking their lips in preparation to deliver the fatal blow to the Church of England with the collusion of their weak-kneed bishops. Canon Wigley said she hoped women in the Church of England would be encouraged by the result: "Sisters across Offa's Dyke, look to us," she said.

One of the 'sisters' in England, the Archbishop of Canterbury's new Acting Press Officer intrigued me after the news that according to the 2011 census the City of Norwich was rated the most godless city in England. She claimed that the good people of Norwich are "doing their church-going differently". The answer to that puzzle may be found in the Church in Wales Membership and Finances 2012 (here).

The report indicates that while Easter communicants, average Sunday attendance and Electoral Roll membership have fallen by close to 50% in the last twenty years, statistics gathered over the last two years suggest that there is growth in the Church’s work in non-traditional forms of activity with people of all ages. Termed “Other Acts of Worship” these include:

• Cafe style worship, and pub Bible study;
• Healing services;
• Pet and other animal blessing services;
• Messy church;
• Discipleship groups;
• Taize-inspired services;
• Quiet times and meditations;
• Singing groups and music projects for children;
• Celtic services and Benedictine compline.

Perhaps the ever popular 'coffee' services can be expanded and sponsored by Starbucks to provide people with what they want without commitment together with an element of financial security.

For now the girls will need lots of patience. Barry has his tail up. He is the oldest bishop but will be in no hurry to retire and then there is the inevitable question of downsizing. When a vacancy does arise there will be calls from those who constantly claim discrimination to appoint a women regardless of the abilities of male candidates. By then the scales will have fallen from the eyes of male clerical supporters and they will see that they have no future, the end of Anglicanism many of us have known and loved since childhood.

For the present Barry's next aim will be same-sex marriage in church. He has already expressed his firm approval of gay bishops so his dream retirement present will be two lesbian bishops coming to plight their troth under Jacob Epstein's Majestas as the new £1.5m organ in his bankrupt cathedral blasts out: "Here come the brides".

Lining up at Governing Body                                                        Picture: BBC

Friday 13 September 2013

Wolves in shepherd's clothing?

  Church in Wales Sacred Synod, Lampeter, 11 Sept 2013                                     Photo: Church in Wales

This morning there were reports of great rejoicing in the Church in Wales (CinW) and in the women's lobby, examples here and here, after the decision to admit women to the episcopate in Wales. For others, the rejected minority, there will be a feeling of utter desolation akin to excommunication. The fact that the CinW has too many bishops and will have to cut the number of dioceses, probably from six to three, to have any chance of surviving will have been lost in the euphoria.

Despite my reservations over their intent (based on their past record), the bishop's Bill did included a measure which would have made some sort of statuary provision for dissenters, a measure hailed by some as the way forward in the Church of England. Whether or not it would have been acceptable to those for whom it was intended we will never know but it gave the senior CinW pastors a semblance of credibility.

In the event the Bench revealed all by voting unanimously in favour of the Jackson - Wigley amended Bill which replaced the statuary guarantee with a meaningless Code of Practice. As the Ven. Peggy Jackson rightly said, "the Church in Wales has changed for ever".

The Bench would have had more credibility if they had withdrawn their Bill after the Jackson - Wigley amendment was carried. They didn't, suggesting that they had no intention of offering anything meaningful thereby confirming what Dr Morgan is reported to have said that 'there would be alternative pastoral provision over his dead body'.

Effectively the Governing Body did an about turn giving the Bench what they asked for five years ago. So what changed? From the very many comments I have heard and read, before and after the vote, it is clear that many had no theological concept of what they were voting on. Politics ruled.  Statutory provision was not a lot to ask for fellow Christians who feel threatened in their own church but this was denied them with vigourous applause!

The Bench of Bishops had their chance but failed woefully leaving significant numbers under their care in limbo. It will be difficult for them to dig themselves out of the pit they have created but there is a chance to redeem themselves by allowing acceptable provision combined with the Church of England. If we are to learn anything from this sad episode it must be that working together to find a solution acceptable to all is the only just way forward.

This morning I entered church in gloom. I left in sunshine reflecting on our prayers. We had prayed for the people of Syria and those suffering elsewhere, especially for persecuted Christians. What would they give to be in our position? We owe it to them to do better.

Oh! Wolves in shepherd's clothing? The answer is here.

Thursday 12 September 2013

A sad day for the Church in Wales

 Barry and his bench sitters have succeeded in turning the Church in Wales into a Protestant sect aided by a well aimed feminist amendment:

Archbishop Barry Morgan, said: “Thank you for the way in which the debate has been conducted and I hope you will trust us as Bishops to prepare a Code of Practice.”

The Code of Practice commits the Bench to making provisions such that all members of the Church in Wales including those who in conscience dissent from the provision of section 1 [women bishops] may have a sense of security in their accepted and valued place within the Church in Wales.

The end.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

More bad news for the Bishop of Llandaff

On the eve of a Bill being introduced by the Welsh bishops at their Governing Body to allow women to become bishops in the Church in Wales - presumably the Holy Spirit wasn't listening last time - comes the news that the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Llandaff who is also the Archbishop of Wales is all but bankrupt. 

The Church in Wales as a whole had an operating deficit last year of £518,000 while Llandaff Cathedral’s accounts show that in the 12 months to December 2012 its spending was £71,673 more than its income. The remedy? The Bishop of Llandaff made a personal appeal to all members of the Cathedral parish’s Electoral Roll to pay more: "It has suggested a weekly sum of £8.56, which is actually less than the average amount of £8.73 given across the Church in Wales. The Church encourages worshippers to give 5% of their take home pay". Many do, even when treated as lepers because they do not subscribe to fashionable fads promoted by their bishops, but for how much longer? 

Fewer and fewer worshippers are expected to pay more and more to keep afloat a bloated hierarchy and out of date provincial structure. In politics ministers line up to tell the Prime Minister that it is time to go when things get really bad but relevance to society is only useful in the church if it suits, just as claiming the work of the Holy Spirit if things go according to plan.

Barry Morgan's record is hardly inspirational. The latest in a string of disastrous appointments saw his new Dean disappear overnight - perhaps after looking at the books! How in conscience can the Welsh bishops be proposing such a fundamental change to the Apostolic faith when they have already failed the church so abysmally? If the hierarchy can't be trusted to look after the church they have inherited why should they be trusted to make changes to our patrimony?

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Women bishops vote could be derailed again

Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales                                                                Picture: WalesOnline

A new bid to establish the first women bishops in the Church in Wales could be heading for the rocks, half a decade after the last attempt at reform was sunk according to a report in WalesOnline.

In another report from the BBC, 'two Bangor churches' are to close. Not particularly surprising given the steep decline in worship but the actual figures from the Visitation of the Rectorial Benefice of Bangor Report make grim reading:

Church                         Average attendance 2012
St David's                                       23
St Mary's                                        27
St Peter's                                       25
Eglwys y Groes                              11
Bangor Cathedral                           90

Under the plans, Bangor cathedral will be used as a "parish" church for congregations from St Mary's and St David's which are both within a mile-and-a-half (2.5 km) of the cathedral. But for how long is this solution sustainable with ageing congregations being bused in?

The Church in Wales should have got the message by now. Congregations are voting with their feet but still the hierarchy plods on with a political obsession with women's rights as the church falls apart around them. True, for many it just doesn't matter who is standing at the Altar but for others it is central to their faith. More the pity then that attempts are made to sideline this section of the church. Without them the church will be the poorer both spiritually and financially.

Some see the bishops' Bill as a way forward: " Susie Leafe, director of the conservative group Reform, was impressed by the Bill, saying: “We have watched with interest the approach the Church in Wales has taken and think that what’s currently on the agenda is an imaginative and helpful solution which recognises the integrity of a broad church.” But this takes no account of the fact that the Church in Wales reneged on alternative episcopal oversight after women were admitted to the priesthood and looks set to do the same again if the measure is passed.

The Jackson - Wigley Amendment illustrates the thinking of Women and the Church in England which implies concern but in effect gives no assurances. In the secular world which the church is busy mimicking, who in their right mind would enter into a contract on vague suggestions of fair treatment after the deal is done? 

What is clear in this whole sad affair both in England and in Wales is that the Anglican Church is not prepared to agree in advance acceptable provision for worshippers who follow the traditional teaching of the universal church which must raise doubts about their intentions and remains a cause of considerable concern among many who are in favour of the ordination of women. 

Monday 9 September 2013

The Gagging Law

From 38 Degrees:

You might have heard about the “gagging law” currently being voted on by MPs. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s really bad news. If it goes through, it will have a chilling effect on British democracy and on our right to speak up on the issues that matter to us.

Basically, the law slashes the spending limits on campaigning for the year before any election. Campaigns that have impact don’t cost the earth, but they aren’t free.

Community groups, charities and campaigning organisations would all be hit. Election time is when ordinary people have the most influence on our politicians. On the big issues of the day – whether or not to go to war, the future of our NHS, the environment, welfare, immigration, etc. – we'd all be gagged.

The problem is that this law has come out of nowhere and not many people have heard what’s going on. If we’re going to defeat it, we need to get the word out further. If every single person who’s ever joined a local campaign group or taken action with their favourite charity knew that they could be stopped from doing that again, the outcry could explode.

Above is a simple five minute video you can watch for more information. Can you take a look, and then help get the word out by passing it on to your friends and family?

You can contact your MP here

Friday 6 September 2013

The gentle art of persuasion or is it deception?


"WHEREAS the Law and Constitution of the Church in Wales has hitherto not permitted women to be consecrated as bishops

AND WHEREAS it is now appropriate in the Church in Wales that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops

AND WHEREAS the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church 

AND WHEREAS the Church in Wales, subject to the provisions of the civil law relating to equality and other relevant matters, wishes to respect those who in conscience cannot accept that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops ..."

The above preamble to the Church in Wales Bill to Enable Women to be Consecrated as Bishops reads as a statement of facts but only the first statement is true. The universal church does not consider it appropriate that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishop. This is an innovation based largely on secular principles of equality misapplied to the church for political reasons and have nothing to do with the Christian faith as handed down through the ages.

The Anglican Communion has been torn apart by separate provinces breaking with our traditional understanding of ordination. This and the related matter of Homosexuality and Anglicanism has resulted in many provinces representing about half of the 80 million practising Anglicans worldwide responding to these theological disputes by declaring a state of impaired communion with their counterparts.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches have made their positions abundantly clear, examples here and here. Ordaining women to the episcopate is in direct contradiction to the statement that 'the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'.  As Metroploitan Hilarion observed, the future of ecumenism is in great peril with the gap widening between orthodox and progressives.

'Progressives' have shown themselves determined to plough their own furrows regardless of the cost to unity and to the fate of their brothers and sisters whose only 'error' has been to remain loyal to the traditional teaching of the 'One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church' in common with the vast majority of Christians including most Anglicans. The preamble to the Bill asserts that the Church in Wales...wishes to respect those who in conscience cannot accept that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops" but on the evidence so far, this sounds as empty as 'the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'.

Unlike the Church of England where alternative episcopal oversight is provided by Provincial Episcopal visitors, such oversight has been denied to worshippers in the Church in Wales following the retirement in 2008 of the Provincial Assistant Bishop (PAB) on the grounds that alternative oversight creates a church within a church. This argument is refuted in The Church, Women Bishops and Provision : "We have shown that authentic episcopal oversight can be, and has been, exercised in a variety of ways,  both historically and today" [p.77].

Under Section 3(2) of the Bill:
Recommendations made pursuant to the provisions of subsection (1) and agreed by the Bench of Bishops must be included in a Bill introduced into the Governing Body of the Church in Wales within two years of the promulgation of this Bill [My emphasis - Ed.]. But what sort of provision can possibly be made given Dr Morgan's outright rejection of anything acceptable to those for whom it is intended? Without a complete about face there cannot be acceptable provision. A PAB would no longer be appropriate because he could not with integrity be an assistant to a woman bishop so a duly consecrated bishop, or bishops, perhaps from outside the province, would be required which is unlikely given Dr Morgan's refusal even to replace the PAB.

The danger if this legislation succeeds is that having achieved their main aim of permitting women to be consecrated as bishops, the Bench of Bishops will find themselves unable to agree any proposals put to them, no doubt making full use of the proviso 'subject to the provisions of the civil law relating to equality and other relevant matters' if their conduct to date is taken as a guide. One only has to look to the manoeuvring in England and what has happened in the United States to be wary of this legislation. 

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Dying on the Vine

This short video illustrates how strongly a person in the US identifies with their faith. The percentage of Catholics claiming to be a 'strong' Catholic is at an all time low and only half of those claiming to be strong Catholics claim that they attend mass at least once a week. The blame for this phenomenon is put squarely on the bishops who constantly promote social issues at the expense of spiritual concerns: "The episcopate has acquiesced to nearly every cultural fad you can name" inserting "personal views" instead of "traditional teaching". Many of the clergy "either don't know about the faith or don't care about it". 

For the Catholic Church substitute the Episcopal Church in the United States and Anglican church here in Great Britain and the same basic message applies. Observers could easily be forgiven for thinking that Christianity today is all about sex.

In England the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fretting about his stance on same-sex marriage. He told an audience of traditional born-again Christians that "they must 'repent' over the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past and said most young people viewed Christians as no better than racists on the issue". Racist, bigot, homophobic, any label is used to smear fellow Christians who strive to defend the faith against revision. Of course there have been errors in the past but to bend to public opinion at the expense of the Christian faith is demonstrably not the way forward.

Next week the Church in Wales will be revisiting the issue of women bishops. Their Archbishop will once again be banging the gender drum urging his Governing Body to give him a blank cheque to appoint women bishops despite his unwillingness to recognise the not unreasonable desire of members of his own church to be allowed to follow the traditional faith of the Holy Catholic Church of which he still claims to be a member.

Any sense of spirituality has been lost in a maze of liberalism and relativity. In Cardiff recently the Archbishop of Wales launched the LGBT Mardi Gras expressing the view that "sadly the church has not always treated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with the respect they deserve, as people are made in the image of God". So are the people he has refused acceptable provision. Sexuality in today's church is clearly more powerful than spirituality.

I have not encountered the level of prejudice in the church implied by the Archbishops unless I count the possibly veiled request from an elderly gentleman many years ago that the vicarage be occupied by a family man, a request that was promptly side-lined in favour of appointing the most suitable available priest. As it happens a family man was appointed. He destroyed the good work of his predecessor before moving on to greatness taking his liberal credentials with him to wreak new havoc.

In the video a favourable comparison is drawn between strong Protestants and strong Catholics. That is no cause for celebration in Great Britain when drawing a comparison. As the following graph shows, while 'Evangelical Protestants' are increasing 'Mainline Protestants' are also dying on the Vine.


Sunday 1 September 2013

Archbishop opts for delusion

One of the snippets of information I found in my inbox on return from a Summer break was that the sweet-talking Archdeacon of Norwich has been chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury to be his his acting Press Secretary. 

As Communications Director for the Diocese of Norwich the Venerable Jan McFarlane is not simply being reunited with her former theological college fellow student, Justin Welby. She has demonstrated her skill as a communications person by her ability to turn a disaster into a success, well illustrated in an interview here after the news that according to the 2011 census, the City of Norwich was rated the most godless city in England but apparently the good people of Norwich are "doing their church-going differently"!

Also announced in August were statistics showing that "the number of worshippers at Church of England cathedrals increased in 2012, continuing the growing trend seen since the Millennium" while detailed figures show that "almost all the increase in attendance in the past decade is due to increased midweek attendance".

Good news is always welcome but let us not delude ourselves into believing that the Church of England is not in serious trouble