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Thursday, 31 October 2013

WaterAid #BigPipeProject

From WaterAid

(Click on the image for the full story)

"By acting together we will make a difference."

If you want to help to make a difference, click on "Join this Thunderclap" (above).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Christ humbled Himself on a cross; women insist on honour. How did it come to this?

The GAFCON Jerusalem cross has been brought from Jerusalem where the first GAFCON was held 
in 2008. It was carried in procession during the final communion service. It will stay in Nairobi
 until the next GAFCON to which the Conference committed itself.

"Synod to consider women bishops ‘ombudsman’"

- + -

I discovered the above juxtaposition while looking through the entries on the 'Anglican Mainstream' site (Right hand column). Under the picture of the GAFCON cross was this entry: Synod to consider women bishops ‘ombudsman'. (Story here).

From the days when you could buy a 'penneth' of chips with one old penny I well remember Sunday School posters which illustrated life in areas of Africa which were known then as Tanganyika, Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Every Lent we eagerly collected coins in sealed cardboard boxes to aid the spread of the Gospel in Africa. Now the countries which spread the Word in those far off days are being taken to task for re-interpreting scripture to justify the wants of minority groups from women's ordination to same-sex relationships. Read Peter Ould's important article on Pilling here.

The women bishops measure was lost fairly at Synod but the result was not accepted. A more aggressive, winner-takes-all campaign was launched by Women in the Church (WATCH) and their supporters. Desperate to have women bishops at any cost, the latest proposals have been published. The Church of England should have "an ombudsman-style arbitrator" to rule on rows about the issue of women bishops: "The Church's ruling general synod will decide next month whether to introduce an "independent reviewer" to resolve disputes between Anglicans." ... "Under the latest proposals it is hoped can break the deadlock, an arbitrator – similar to a health service ombudsman – would rule on disputes about the guarantees offered to traditionalists."

For the love of God, how has it  come to this? Essentially because, while claiming the contrary, WATCH along with their fellow travellers are more concerned with power and authority than serving as chief pastors.  Pope Francis put it concisely when he consecrated two new bishops last week, the Episcopacy is a service, not an honour
“It is Christ who, in the bishop's ministry, continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and to sanctify believers, through the sacraments of the faith”, he said. “Indeed, 'episcopate' is the name of a service, not an honour. It is the bishop's responsibility to serve rather than to dominate, according to the commandment of the Master: 'the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves'”... Finally, Francis encouraged them to pay close attention to “those who have strayed from the fold of Christ, because they too have been entrusted to you by the Lord. Pray for them (full report here).

This issue is now so politicised that the media constantly report it in secular terms of women's rights and job opportunities with no regard for conscientious beliefs. The BBC report referred to above links to a previous article in which "BBC Radio 4's Charlotte Smith, a regular church-goer herself, samples the views of clergy and congregations". One churchgoer told her "It is absolutely ridiculous, it looks like we are stuck in the 1740s. My daughter loves this Church because of our attitude towards women but says she is not going to come back to the Church of England 'til they actually get this sorted out." Not thy way O Lord but mine!

And this: "The issue was certainly enough to bemuse the 10 and 11-year-old girls at a recent schools day at Winchester cathedral. They were not really planning careers in the church. Singing and doctoring seemed better options to them. But they could not understand why women could be vicars but they could not be bishops. Some of the volunteers working in the cathedral were equally mystified. "If women are made priests, inevitably, if they're good, they should become bishops," one said." Doubtless nobody bothered to explain that it is a problem of the Anglican Church's own making because in the wider church, woman are not admitted to the priesthood.

Despite that, opponents of the ordination of women, including other women, who simply want to keep the faith of the Holy Catholic Church are constantly portrayed as bigots and misogynists as though they are against women per se. That is absurd. So what is the problem? There isn't one. It is simply that a contrary view is not tolerated. WATCH and their supporters want outright victory with no provision for opponents. Claims of being demeaned as second class bishops are mere devices to crush any opposition using secular criteria because they don't have a theological leg to stand on.

That is why they are now pointing to the Church in Wales as an example after the shabby procedure there resulted in a vote to accept women as bishops with no statutory provision for dissenters, a decision greeted with loud applause by 'broad church' Anglicans! The Church in Wales campaign has been as devious and underhand as in the Church of England with suggestions of collusion by the bishops but they are not interested in anything Pope Francis has to say because Rome does not recognise their orders. Once we have women bishops neither will many Anglicans.

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love"! 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A can of worms

Llandaff Deanery with former temporary Dean, the Archbishop of Wales and current 'minder', the Archdeacon of Llandaff.

The Deanery on Llandaff Cathedral Green has been vacant ever since the last appointee did a runner in May after only weeks in the job. The mystery of why she left has not been solved but everything points to her having been sold a pup. Effectively the Deanery has been empty since the Ven John Lewis returned to the hills back in July 2012.

In the June issue of the Llandaff Parish Magazine, The Bell, Archbishop Morgan wrote: [The Cathedral] " the Bishop’s church, the place where he has his chair – the place, in other words, where he has his home but the place from which he exercises oversight over the wider diocesan family.  And, it is in my capacity as Bishop, that I have decided to exercise direct oversight over the Cathedral for the time being" while he 'pondered what to do next'. Having pondered for a while as Archbishop, Diocesan Bishop, Temp Dean and Vicar in addition to his political work, he reverted to the position of leaving the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Venerable Peggy Jackson with the "necessary oversight of the Cathedral on his behalf, until a new Dean is appointed".

One has to ask who in their right mind would want to take on the task given the reported mess that the Cathedral is in, corporately and financially. The vogue of appointing women as Deans in preparation for accepting women bishops was an abject failure. Traditionalist clergy of the calibre of the late Dean of Monmouth, the Very Rev Jeremy Winston, are not wanted in today's church because they do not subscribe to the view that faith must be governed by society. As for the rest of the clergy we must draw our own conclusions from Dr Morgan's preference for looking outside the Province for senior staff. One suggestion I heard doing the rounds was that the Ass Bishop would be persuaded to move to the Deanery to write his books leaving the way open for Dr Morgan to achieve his goal of appointing the first woman bishop as Assistant Bishop of Llandaff before retiring, mission accomplished. 

The Venerable F A Jackson obviously had sufficient time on her hands while doing both jobs to work on the amendment which scuppered the Bishops' motion for a two stage Bill accepting the ordination of women to the episcopacy subject to statutory provision being made for "those faithful worshippers who, in good conscience, hold views of scripture and the tradition of the Church which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accept the role, of ordained women", as the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon succinctly put it. Could 'Bishop' Jackson be part of a deal?

Leaving speculation aside, one thing is clear from all the comments received. It is time that Archbishop Morgan made Llys Esgob vacant giving the Church in Wales a fresh start. That is not just a majority view, it is unanimous. The "Bishop’s church" is in dire straits. Membership is plummeting leaving the remainder with an ever increasing financial burden. There is a weariness of his stewardship but there is no oversight of the overseers. Under the Constitution of the Church in Wales unless the Archbishop becomes incapacitated by infirmity he is able to carry on regardless. That cannot be for the good of the Church.

"Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity". Titus 2:7.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

"You stupid woman!"

Madame Edith with her two-timing husband René Artois in the Café René

A catchphrase which made me cringe in the old BBC TV sitcom 'Allo 'Allo! was employed whenever Madame Edith caught her husband in the arms of one the cafe's serving girls. His innocent wife was continually duped into believing that she had been judgmental after receiving the usual response from her husband René: "You stupid woman!" - example here.

Baroness Morgan of Ely has aroused similar feelings of having been duped in the latest round of a campaign to marginalise  fellow Anglicans if they remain faithful to the teaching and tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. 'Stupid' women and men who were duped into believing what they were promised in 1996 when women were first admitted to the presbyterate that if in conscience they could not accept the priestly ministry of women they continued to be respected members of the church. In retrospect how condescending that is to cradle Anglicans who have supported the church faithfully and financially for decades, keeping bishops and presbyters in the style to which they have become accustomed only to find themselves unloved and unwanted in their own church for the sake of appeasing feminist ambitions.

The Baroness has criticised the Church in Wales' policy of ordaining priests who disagree with women in the priesthood and called for churchgoers who support female leadership to be provided with an “alternative priest” at communion services - see here. Although speaking 'personally', her intervention in a politically motivated campaign to sideline anyone who does not back the liberal policies that are destroying Anglicanism, aligns her with the bishops who are supposed to care for all but signally fail to do so other than on their own terms.

This strategy illustrates the duplicity in the alleged discrimination against women. What they complain of to advance their own cause is readily used to discriminate against anyone who does not toe the revisionist line. Anyone who disagrees becomes ever more marginalised helping to swell the numbers of  the 'majority'. This is no more apparent than in the unanimity of the Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales, only one of whom would be on the Bench had they not signed up to Dr Morgan's policies regarding the ordination of women to the priesthood and now to the episcopate.

In the Church of England earlier this year the Archbishop of York was petitioned to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn would be prepared to ordain women as priests despite legislation which stipulates that "there will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood". 

From the Church in Wales September 2012 Consultation Paper on The Ordination of Women to the Episcopate (Appendix One): Fundamental to any new process, the bishops wish to honour the statement made by the Governing Body in connection with the Ordination of women to the presbyterate in 1996 that the conscience of those who cannot accept the ordination of women as priests – and, by extension, bishops – should continue to be respected in the Church in Wales.

Baroness Morgan is not a stupid woman. The daughter of a Church in Wales priest, married to a NSM, she is a rounded politician who should be very familiar with church politics yet ignoring official pledges she says: “I am at a loss to understand why the Church in Wales is still ordaining priests who fundamentally disagree with the stated position of the church 16 years after the principle of women priests has been accepted." Coming at a delicate time in church life when soundings are being taken by the Bench of Bishops on a code of practice this is a very worrying development for worshippers who already feel threatened with promises being so easily dismissed.

If the Baroness is really troubled about receiving Holy Communion from a priest who, in common with the majority of priests in the Apostolic Church, believes that women should not be admitted to the priesthood she should have no trouble in finding a like minded priest in today's Anglican Church. Or she could try going without which is the fate of the 'respected' few when there is no alternative. But that is not the real issue. It is a device to turn on its head genuine conscientious views which from a secular standpoint may appear absurd but to those people so is the Resurrection.

Readers of Baroness Morgan's comments who do not share her views will have been encouraged by the response of the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, the Rt Rev John Davies:
“There has been no separate provision for those who have difficulty in accepting the ministry of women priests since 2008 when the then Provincial Assistant Bishop retired. Despite this, the Church in Wales recognises that there are those faithful worshippers who, in good conscience, hold views of scripture and the tradition of the Church which makes it difficult or impossible for them to accept the role, of ordained women."

It will be interesting to see how this is embodied in the Code of Practice which accompanies the women bishops measure if the Church in Wales is to stem the haemorrhaging of members. Another Church in Wales report referred to here shows that the number of Christenings across the country has approximately halved in the past 25 years. The ordination of women was supposed to be the saving of the church but not so. With attendances continuing to decline will there be anyone left to minister to in the next generation unless urgent action is taken to redress the wrongs being perpetrated in the Church in Wales?

Source: Church in Wales Membership and Finances 2012

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Let us not pray

"Atheists are to hold a service in St John the Evangelist Church, Leeds" Photo: Yorkshire Evening Post 

"We’d like to take all of the good bits out of church and leave the religious stuff behind."

No, that is not the voice of the New Anglicanism although many may think so as coffee time replaces faith as the central act of 'worship' in the Church of England. 

St John the Evangelist, the oldest church in Leeds, dates from 1634. The Grade I listed building which is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust after being made redundant in 1977 is to echo again to the sound of music although there will be no prayers. In a move designed to "take all of the good bits out of church and leave the religious stuff behind" the church's dedication to St John the Evangelist now sounds singularly inappropriate - story here - but who knows!

The disposal and further use of redundant Christian churches is bound to cause problems of identity simply by their appearance on the basis that 'an elephant is an elephant'. What appears to be a house of God will be seen by observers as a house of God even after deconsecration, a process most will know little if anything about. Although a deconsecrated church becomes just another building, its very appearance in most cases still makes it an act of witness, albeit historically.

Like it or not there is an odd sense of unrecognised 'Godliness' in what the Sunday Assembly movement is doing in a church building. God is love! What they seek is professed to be 'for good'. That can't be bad. One day the 'non-worshippers' may sit in silent contemplation and look around wondering what inspired people to construct the ancient building they are not worshipping in.

Another church in the news is St Peter's Catholic church in Stoke-on-Trent which has been sold to the local Muslim community after they made the best offer. That is not so good. Christ's kingdom is not about money but it is under constant threat from Islam. Providing Muslims with another safe haven where radicalisation may take place looks like another act of submission (the meaning of Islam) while Muslims continue to oppress non-Muslims around the world with muted self criticism and implied approval here by constantly giving ground to an oppressive religio-political system of Islamic expansionism.

Also in the news, reported here, the Prison Officers Association has expressed their concern about the growing power and influence of Muslim gangs in prisons. Inmates are being bullied into converting to Islam with fears that some of the converts could be radicalised, a process which inevitably leads to the slaughter of innocents, here, contradicting claims that Islam is a religion of peace.

Communities around the world constantly suffer under Islam particularly when they are minorities as demonstrated by the latest outrage in Egypt here where drive-by, masked gunmen sprayed a wedding party outside a Coptic Church in Cairo with bullets from automatic weapons killing four people including two young girls. Check 'Voice of the Copts' here for what life is like for minorities under Islam.

In these circumstances 'Let us not pray' is far more attractive than the prayers of those called to prayer five times a day while carrying out their barbarous acts in the name of religion.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Self-serving Senior Women and the Church

AB Antje Jackelén             PB Jefferts Schori             Ven Peggy Jackson

Just as you think it can't get much worse than the heretical views of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in the US (TEC) along comes Antje Jackelén the new Archbishop of the Church of Sweden who reportedly has difficulty in choosing between Jesus and Muhammed!

From beliefnet:
“On July 8, 2012, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her brand of post-Christian religion while masquerading as a Christian bishop,” reported convention attendee Dr. Sarah Frances Ives. “She mocked most of the crucial doctrines of the Christian faith, including the God of creation, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. She accomplishes this through her demeaning use of rhetoric. She taunts the Lord by the use of the name ‘Big Man’ and then points her finger at everyone listening and tells them that they have ‘missed the boat.’

“Jefferts Schori then proclaims that she has the answer for this. We all need the ‘act of crossing boundaries’ to become God after which our hands become a ‘sacrament of mission.’ In this sermon, Jefferts Schori continued her mission of destroying the Christian faith through her rhetorical device of dismissive ridicule". Read the whole sad story here.

In Sweden the appointment of Antje Jackelén as Archbishop of the Church of Sweden has prompted one of the church’s most pre-eminent theologians, Professor Eva Hamberg, to leave her post as a member of the church’s theological council in protest against bishop Antje Jackelén’s failure to stand behind the Church of Sweden’s profession of faith. In a number of interviews Professor Hamberg has expressed her disappointment that 'not even the top leader of the church' will clearly profess a Christian faith but wavers between Jesus and Muhammed. Professor Hamberg has also renounced her position as priest and her membership of the church.

Antje Jackelén was appointed Archbishop as predicted here because she is a woman: "Powerful lobbying groups within the church have long argued that the new archbishop must be a woman so Jackelén’s sex has been an advantage". Her motto is ”God is greater” translated from the Arabic "Allahu akbar", the cry of Muslim extremists as they butcher the innocent. Critics claim that the scene was prepared for the Antje Jackelén 'from the beginning' and that she has not been subjected to a proper vetting process.

When candidates were asked if they thought Jesus presented a truer picture of God than Muhammed she could not choose between the two. The report continues: It is not only Jackelén’s motto and her unwillingness to put Jesus ahead of Muhammed that has evoked strong feelings among many committed Christians. During the pre-appointment questioning, the new archbishop also said that the Church of Sweden has more in common with other religions than with other Christian churches, that the Virgin Birth must be understood metaphorically, that hell doesn’t exist and that the Biblical texts should not be taken as truth. The full sad story here.

In England Jackelén's appointment has sparked a row. Not so much about her suitability to lead a Christian church but the implication that gender was the issue, something pounced on by the Rev Miranda Threlfall-Holmes in her blog about "Christianity, History, Feminism" with particular emphasis on the later. The Rev Sally Hitchiner Kicked off with her tweet: "Antje Jackelen elected Sweden's first woman archbishop - Come on England: the Swedes are decades ahead again!" Never mind the quality! If someone else does it we should do it too and should have done it first. That was the response here and here to the news that the Church in Wales voted in favour of women bishops.

The appointment of Antje Jackelén made it crystal clear that the major imperative was to appoint a woman. There was less concerned about her beliefs. As the Rev Peter Ould wrote in response to Sally Hitchiner's tweet: Are you not slightly concerned she denies parts of the Creed? Is that OK because she's XX? Perhaps those making the appointment were influenced by anything goes in today's liberal church, particularly in the example of TEC.

The liberal Church of England is desperate to see women bishops at any cost. This was the reaction of the Archdeacon of Llandaff  after she was "shocked" by the General Synod vote in November. She said:
“I feel saddened that the Synod lay members revealed themselves badly out of touch with the feelings of ordinary people, inside the Church and beyond. It gave a quite wrong message about the Church’s attitude to women in all walks of society, appearing to deny women’s ability to hold positions of leadership and authority, and imply that they should be content with discrimination and subordinate status.” 

The Archdeacon proposed the amendment to the Bishops' Bill in Wales which denied faithful Anglicans a statutory right to continue as loyal Anglicans in the Church in Wales. Peggy Jackson is an intelligent woman, a chartered accountant and a pilot but she is unable, or is unwilling, to see the difference between people of faith who take the teaching of Christ more seriously than the opinions of people in the street. We do not deny "women’s ability to hold positions of leadership and authority" or "imply that they should be content with discrimination and subordinate status." (Interview here).

I can understand her feelings after being deserted by her husband when she said, “I was at a low in my life, I thought I would give the Church a go and I found the most wonderful welcome. I was feeling desperate and it was a lifeline at a very black time.”

Of course it is all about gender with some women serving their own interests above all else. However embittered some may feel they should be able to see that it is a very black time for many cradle Anglicans. They know the tide has turned but it is not a feminine trait to abandon others. All that is asked is a lifeline.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Ladies first

"Bishops' hat-trick"                                                                                   Photo: Church in Wales

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” ― George Orwell, 1984.

For older Anglicans the year '1984' is most likely to invoke memories of George Orwell's novel 'Nineteen eighty-four' but for 50% of the Bench of Bishops of the Church in Wales it is the year that they were ordained by the late Derrick Childs, former Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Monmouth, in his Cathedral - story here. Who could have imagined that all three would become bishops occupying half the Bench a generation later. Much has changed in the church since Derrick Childs was Archbishop.

In 1984 two were ordained deacon, the third, Gregory Cameron, was ordained priest. Since then he has been out in the world serving the wider Anglican Communion - see here - but not the rest of the Bench which is made up of local boys, safe pairs of hands becoming Barry's apparatchiks putting the ordination of women first before any ability (see here) to spread the Gospel or adding to the church. Inward investment has been limited at the highest levels to Barry's blunders here and here although he has achieved a remarkable success (in his terms) with a convert who has succeeded in robbing faithful Anglicans of the promise of an honoured place in the church secured by statute. 

Great Britain has not become the 1984 'Oceanian province of Airstrip One' but 'perpetual war' has broken out within the church and between church and society. This was summed up by the current Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan in 2007 when he said the new phenomenon of "atheistic fundamentalism" in British society was dangerous because it refused to allow any contrary viewpoint and affected public perception of religion. He went on to say: "All of this is what I would call the new "fundamentalism" of our age and any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous, because it allows no room for disagreement, for doubt, for debate, for discussion. It leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that because God is on our side, He is not on yours."

The Church in Wales today no longer allows any contrary viewpoint, only expulsion and exclusivity. This was demonstrated by the Governing Body in its decision to make no statutory provision for anyone with a contrary viewpoint as it rubber stamped Dr Morgan's view of his church. The Archbishop should choose his words more carefully if he is to avoid charges of double standards.
“Big Brother is Watching You.”                      Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” ― George Orwell, 1984

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

We are all in this together (21)

From magnificent domes...

... to bomb craters

 Currently on BBC2 Rageh Omaar is presenting a spectacular three-part series, The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors (clip here). There are many great works of art to be seen in classical Islam but as Omaar's commentary explains, much of what is witnessed was achieved at great cost to others. The credit for the most spectacular architectural achievements is attributed to Mimar Sinan who along with many other Christian children was abducted and forced to convert to Islam, a process of intimidation and gain which continues to this day with scant reporting by the media. Read some modern day horror stories from Egypt here.

In 2004 former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the "evil" of suicide bombers. He said: "Although we owe much to Islam handing on to the West many of the treasures of Greek thought, the beginnings of calculus, Aristotelian thought during the period known in the West as the dark ages, it is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundred years from Muslim countries". These assertions have been tested with shocking results here.

Muslims themselves are not immune from the violence perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists. There is no discrimination when so-called 'martyrs' blow themselves up along with innocent men, women and children while expecting a reward in paradise for their evil deeds executed in the name of God at the behest of earthly masters who shelter well out of harms way.

From that perspective there is no doubt that "we all in this together", Muslims, Jews and Christians. Politicians should stop talking about the wonders of Islam and recognise the reality of the situation as it exists today. One of Saudi Arabia's top Islamic clerics, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, has made a start: “Islam does not allow terrorism at any cost. Islam condemns all violence and terrorism plaguing the world today. Muslims should demonstrate a love for peace and unity.” Amen to that. Chorus please!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

No deceit was found in his mouth

Ivan Glazunov "Crucify Him!" - 1994

"Crucify Him!"  There is no more powerful a statement of man's inhumanity to man than in this cry captured in the work by Ivan Glazunov in 1994, the same year that the Act of Synod was 'promulged' then claimed subsequently by the Ass Bishop of Llandaff to be the blueprint for an act of treachery in the Church in Wales.

He cites the Act of Synod 'promulged in 1994' in his contribution to the refusal by the Bench of Bishops to re-appoint a Provincial Assistant Bishop (PAB), an appointment that cleared the way for women to be ordained to the priesthood in Wales. - See the documentation on the Forward in Faith Wales (Credo Cymru) site here (tab down to Appendix 2, e-mail from Assistant Bishop.) 

The Ass Bishop's intervention asserted that provision for the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (flying bishops) in the Church of England's Act of Synod was intended to be of a "temporary nature". Claiming insider knowledge, he testified as to what was meant. What he actually succeeded in doing was proving that if his interpretation was correct, it was not understood by those for whom it was intended leaving them with just an inferred promise. If the intention had been as he claims then it should have been spelled out; otherwise it was a deception.

There is a vague reference in his submission to "several key people in the Church in Wales" who thought the PAB's appointment was "consonant with the spirit of the Church of England's Act of Synod" but who were those 'key' people and what were the motives of their flawed understanding? If the appointment had not been intended to be permanent surely it would have been more honest to have said so directly. Looking at the revised interpretation of the initial appointment it now has the appearance of a devious plot to gain votes for the admission of women to the priesthood, a process repeated at the meeting of the Governing Body when the Bench of Bishops voted unanimously for women bishops after their own Bill had been amended to remove the statutory provision they thought necessary to see the measure accepted.

Not only have the Welsh bishops shown a distinct lack of charity in their interpretation of alternative Episcopal oversight but their assertions have been strongly contested by Credo Cymru - see the documentation here (Submission to the Bench of Bishops 11 July 2009 and the supplementary submission (para. 14) 29 September 2009).
This is not a re-evaluation in hindsight reporting the claimed intentions of others but based on fact:
 We turn now to the question of how provisional the arrangements of 1996 were meant to be.  It should be noted that the first holder of this post in response to comments by Lord Ellis Thomas wrote in a letter to the ‘Western Mail’ that he would not have accepted the post if he had  understood it to be a merely temporary stop-gap with him as the only holder.

Despite what the Ass Bishop had to say on the matter Archbishop Morgan confirms that there was no suggestion that the position was temporary in his statement on behalf of the Bench of Bishops in response to Credo Cymru's request for a new PAB:

 I confess that this matter was not even thought about one way or another in 1996, but we now feel that whilst the Bench was persuaded that such an appointment may have been necessary then, we do not share that opinion some 13 years later. (Para. 2 of Response from the Bench)

If it was the case that provision of PEVs in the Church of England's Act of Synod Measure was intended to be temporary, it is very odd that in the May 2013, in a Report from the House of Bishops GS1886, the Church of England includes a clear statement that no time limit is set:

"Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England." [My emphasis ED.]

Is that just another callous deceit designed to ease the passage of women to the Episcopate in the Church of England or a genuine desire to honour original intentions? PEVs continue to be replaced in England suggesting that what is happening in Wales is a deliberate act of sabotage. A few weeks ago the new Bishop of Ebbsfleet was consecrated:
"Bishop Goodall has been commissioned by Archbishop Welby to serve, in line with the 1993 Act of Synod, as one of two Provincial Episcopal Visitors for the Province of Canterbury, who work with diocesan bishops to provide extended sacramental ministry and pastoral provision on the Archbishop’s behalf, to ensure that “the integrity of differing beliefs and positions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood should be mutually recognised and respected”.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, preached. He said:
Failed churches, fragmented churches: all in a day’s work in a sense. But the continuity and health, the spiritual vitality and integrity of the Church lies quite simply in the promise and act of Jesus Christ.

The present Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, wrote in his "Response from the Bench":
As you know, we have virtually a new Bench.  I am the only member who agreed to the previous arrangements.

Also on the Bench at that time was the former Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams. Readers will draw their own conclusions.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Welby wobbling the wrong way

 Archbishop Justin Welby                                                                          Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

 "Welby, an evangelical, is a supporter of female bishops. He is also, like the prime minister and the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, an old Etonian." That was the Guardian's reaction following the news that Justin Welby was to replace Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Perhaps it is because he is an old Etonian that he has been "reassessing his own views" on marriage and sexuality.

Public schools have long had a reputation for same sex activity which may have influenced the thinking old Etonians such as the Prime Minister who (regretfully) forced through the gay marriage legislation and Boris Johnson who supported it although old Etonian Welby voted against it. As the Telegraph put it: Although Archbishop Welby comes from the born-again evangelical wing of the Church and voted against David Cameron’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill, he has recently spoken about wanting to get his “mind clear” on the issue. 

The issue is to be top of the agenda at GAFCON in Nigeria later this month when an “action plan” on marriage and sexuality will "reassert a traditionalist interpretation of the Bible" which is seen by some as "a challenge to Archbishop Welby". He told a meeting in August that the Church needed to face up to the fact that most young people, including Christians, thought that its stance on gay marriage was “wicked”. So? That doesn't make them right.

Has the Archbishop also considered that "Ofsted claims that most pupils don’t know who Jesus was"? He should do because he is backing a move in his own Church to introduce what is being likened to “Sunday school for adults” because the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes are now so "unfamiliar to a modern audience".

If Justin Welby is wobbling on marriage and sexuality, he should be sure to wobble in the right direction. Jesus didn't look to the ignorant asking what they should have. He sent his disciples to teach what they had received from Him:

 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - The Great Commission

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Above reproach?

Church in Wales bishops, Llandudno 2012
+St Davids,  +St Asaph,  +Llandaff (Abp),  +Monmouth,  Ass+Llandaff,  +Bangor,  +Swansea&Brecon

The liberal credentials of the Archbishop of Wales are beyond question. He has been straight forward about his attitude to the next trauma for the church, same sex marriage. He talks about it here adding his thoughts about the then forthcoming women bishops legislation and his idea of 'provision' for those who remain faithful to the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church. Studying his delivery and what he had to say suggests that, given their unanimity, he and his bench have no intention of changing their previous stance on alternative Episcopal oversight.

In an earlier 'first' in 2004 Dr Morgan and his bench of bishops appointed the first divorced bishop in the UK after the electoral college failed to agree. At the time the Archbishop said the bench was unanimous in deciding that their candidate was the person "who best fitted the requirements" for the bishop's post.

In that regard it should be noted that the name of the new Bishop of Monmouth was being circulated long before the Archbishop appointed his facilitator to help diocesan representatives in their task of discernment (ie, naming the selected bishop who favours the ordination of women). The new bishop obligingly went on record saying that he was "in favour of women bishops and wants to make the church more relevant for society" - straight off the Archbishop's hymn sheet!

Had 'The Venerable Pain' not been in favour he wouldn't have had a chance but his assurances guaranteed the continuity of unanimous voting by the House of Bishops, thus perpetuating a disease which has spread to the other two Houses resulting in traditionalists being denied their rightful place in the church despite Dr Morgan's claim that "The Bishops are unanimously committed to securing a continuing place in the life of the  Church for those who cannot in conscience accept the new situation created by  the ordination of women to the priesthood." (See below).

Dr Morgan has actively encouraged the appointment of an openly gay bishop in his Province though not yet realised. Presumably he also looks forward to the appointment of a lesbian bishop following the decision to allow women to be appointed bishops in the Church in Wales giving him another 'first'. But that is not the issue here. There is one minority group within his own church whose wishes he has had no truck with. This doesn't augur well for discussions on the Code of Practice, provision for which accompanied the women bishops 'yes' vote in the Church of Wales.  

This is what Dr Morgan said in 2009 about alternative Episcopal oversight :

“We have ... given an assurance that there is room in the Church in Wales for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women. However, we are not minded as bishops to perpetuate a system whereby conscientious objectors may avoid not only the ministry of ordained women but also the ministry of male bishops who have ordained them. That leads in the end to fundamental division and a denial that things are other than they are – that we do live in a church that ordains both women and men.

“There is a difference between recognising the fact that some individuals hold personal views that are at variance with what the Governing Body has decided about the ordination of women and reflecting those views in the structures of the church as if the Church in Wales as a whole had doubts about women’s ordination and the bishops who ordained them. That to my mind would be a real act of injustice – to ordained women, bishops, indeed to the whole church.” [In this context 'whole church' means his dominion, not the Holy Catholic Church which the bishops still claim to belong to despite separating from her following the vote - Ed.]

Compare Dr Morgan's statement with what he promised on behalf of the Bench when persuading the Governing Body to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood:

 The Bishops  are unanimously committed to securing a continuing place in the life of the  Church for those who cannot in conscience accept the new situation created by  the ordination of women to the priesthood. They wish to preserve the highest  degree of unity possible in the Church in Wales for the foreseeable future. With this  in mind, they propose to appoint a bishop who will undertake among other duties  the pastoral oversight of those unable to accept women as priests in the  Province, and to represent their views in the councils of the Church in Wales. He will be an Assistant Bishop,  appointed by one Bishop and authorised by all to minister in their dioceses,  and will share collegial responsibilities with the diocesan bishops in the  Province.

The 'foreseeable future' can now be seen as the shortest possible time before abandoning it bringing into doubt the bishops' sincerity. If their 'commitment' was to be strictly on their own terms they should have said so. It was a shabby promise which is about to be repeated based on the available evidence.

When the Bench of Bishops voted unanimously for the amended Bill which substituted a voluntary Code of Practice for statutory provision they already knew what was meant by alternative episcopal oversight. This was clearly spelled out by the Provincial Assistant Bishop in his paper "A Noble Task". I quote: 

... For this  reason, I believe that the only way in which it might be possible for so-called  traditionalists (how I loathe that misleading word!) to remain in the Church in  Wales [if women were to be ordained as bishops - Ed.] would be if the PAB were to be replaced by a bishop or bishops who had  jurisdiction over those in his or their pastoral and sacramental care. In  saying this, I am not necessarily suggesting the creation of a seventh  ‘non-geographical’ diocese. I can see no reason why such a jurisdiction should  not remain within the existing diocesan and provincial structures in all  matters to do with buildings, finance, schools, etc. It would be necessary,  however, for such a bishop to be able to receive in his own right the customary  declarations of canonical obedience made by clergy, churchwardens and others on  admission to office and to issue licences, dispensations and whatever other  legally binding documents are required for the day-to-day running of the  Church. Likewise, such a bishop would need to have final authority in all  matters to do with the selection, training, ordination, deployment and  discipline of those clergy in his care.

Why would 'traditionalists' now want to accept anything less? The ecstatic reaction to the passing of the amended Bill appeared to consummate the Bench's duplicity. With no canon, a damp squib was thrown in to register concern enabling the Archbishop to make another pledge:

"I promise on behalf of the bench of bishops that we will talk to a range of people across the Church. We'll come back in April to hear what people have to say but in the end the bishops will have to draw up the code of practice." [My emphasis - Ed.]

Based on statements in the public domain it is difficult to see how an acceptable Code of Practice can be agreed. In scripture a bishop must be above reproach. If they enter into discussions with the same predetermined attitude it will lay bare a disgraceful charade rendering the Governing Body vote a deception and make their positions as bishops of the Church completely untenable.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

"Happy-clappy, huggy-and-feely worship"

Following on from my previous post, this video shows a priest dancing a jig in his chasuble along with others prancing around in their liturgical vestments in a manner which elevates Whirling Dervishes to a different level. Yes, rejoice in the Lord always but surely not like this. There is a time and a place for everything. Vestments help to emphasis the other worldliness of worship, something that has become lost in the tit for tat arguments about who or what is responsible for the decline in Christianity. A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie made clear his view of "happy-clappy, huggy-and-feely worship" in the context of the decline in Christian belief. Read it here.

The author of the article, Andrew Brown, argued: "A decline in Christian belief and practice is one of the most important facts of this century, at least in northern Europe. It is a much larger phenomenon than the 3 per cent annual drop in Anglican attendances which sparked off the latest round of ecclesiastical backbiting."

Jump forward a decade or so and the headline is even more startling. Christianity gone haywire, and going down: "What would Paul the Apostle have done with some 100 million followers under existential threat? Has there been a time like the present when every hour another Christian is martyred?" We are "witnessing the total extinction of Christendom in the Middle East". (My emphasis-Ed.)

There is no doubt that Christianity is in crisis. It is a disgrace that the threat to Christianity by Muslims around the world is met with alarming indifference by secularist politicians. But it is also a disgrace that Christians are being marginalised in their own church by other Christians as they advance their brand of sexualised feminist theology discarding the unwanted in the process unless we dance to their tune.