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Monday, 29 January 2018

Yr eglwys a'r Gymraeg: 'Dechreuad' ond mwy i'w wneud

Andy John Bishop of Bangor                                               Source: BBC/Twitter

Another top job post has been created at the Church in Wales' expensive new HQ while ministry areas continue to scratch around for clergy and any help they can get if it is freely provided.

This time the bench of bishops require a Director of Welsh Language and Bilingual Mission to assist them having been negligent in ensuring that Welsh speaking bishops were appointed where appropriate. The diocese of St Davids is a glaring example where political correctness in appointing a woman bishop took precedence over all else.

Andy Pandy, as he is affectionately known in some quarters, gives his spin here on the need for a new post to promote Welsh within the Church in Wales which he says is "beginning" but there is more work to do.

Typically +Andy's account is in Welsh as if he has a vast Welsh speaking audience while Welsh speaking congregations are neglected. Certainly there is more work to do, starting with inadequate bishops engaged in empire building. Three dioceses have already come to readers' attention where the number of clergy is in stark contrast to priests out in the country dashing from church to church.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Mirror, mirror, on the wall....

The Church of England's House of Bishops voted Tuesday to block the creation of a new liturgy
to celebrate  gender transition but urged bishops to use the existing baptism rite as a way
 to mark the passage. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)/theblaze

...who’s the fairest of them all? - Neither Church nor State that's for sure. Both are engaging in absurd distortions of reality.

General Synod paper GS Misc 1178 provides an "update" on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’, as if they are not welcome already, using the now familiar propaganda techniques of exploiting the 'victim' status - see earlier entry - just as the LGBT lobby has done to secure a dedicated chaplaincy and "a safe, sacred space for our LGBTI+ friends to share their stories, explore their faith and enjoy time together with no fear of judgement" -  [click here and scroll down to "Open Table come as you are"].

In July 2017 the General Synod carried, "with strong support in all three Houses, a motion brought forward by the Blackburn Diocesan Synod, that this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition."

'Theblaze' summerises how the Church of England’s House of Bishops voted on Tuesday to block the creation of a new liturgy to celebrate gender transition. Bishops were urged instead to use the existing baptism rite as a way to mark the passage. Dodging the concept of second baptisms the Church of England has instead given the green light to using existing liturgies similar to the way gay unions are being blessed with all the outward appearances of church marriages.

The State, as in NHS England, is also pandering to fashion as if money were no object in offering biological males a smear test for cervical cancer if they identify as females, even though they do not have female organs, while women who could be at risk but identify as men are not being routinely offered potentially life saving NHS screening for breast and cervical cancer amid fears it might offend them.

If people want to ignore their biological sex they are free to do so but they should not expect others to engage in their fantasies. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 22-28 January.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Church in Wales 'love' triptych

The Bishop of St Asaph (centre) launching the UK’s first LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy with the bishops of Llandaff (left) and St Davids strutting their credentials.

This triptych emphasis what is now the most important issue for bishops in the Church in Wales today, accepting minorities - as if hey were not already - provided of course they are not the minority which strive to keep the faith against all the odds.

The first woman bishop in Wales lost no time in identifying with Pride Cymru. The bishop of St Davids led a Eucharist service in the Pride faith tent which celebrated "people from different religious backgrounds and their place in the LGBT community". 

The bishop's involvement in Cardiff's Pride Cymru festival was described as "fantastic" and "extraordinary" by Cardiff University Methodist Chaplain the Rev Delyth Liddell who "co-ordinated" the faith tent. 

Years ago one of the impediments to unity for some Methodists was the presence of alcohol in Communion wine. Now it appears that homosexuality could be the glue which binds Methodists and Anglicans together, or those who are left, adding a new dimension to 'when two or three are gathered together'.

Love wins according to the pride banner so enthusiastically carried before her by the bishop of St Davids. Many of the bishops in the Church of England have fallen for that trite little phrase ignoring the wider connotations but a far greater impediment to reconciliation will be voted on after the Church of England Synod debates sharing Methodist ministers. This would mean a break in the Apostolic Succession if Methodist clergy who have not been ordained by a bishop were entitled to hold Church of England services.

Sadly, few will care any more. Many of those who did care have left the church which nurtured them; rather, the Church has left them.

Real love loses.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Church in Wales Ministry Areas

In response to my previous entry, commentator O.wot.a.blunda wrote:
"In the meantime morale among the clergy is at an all-time low. The misery areas or whatever they're called now are a complete shambles, with PCCs and all sense of order having gone to the wall. No one wants to be a ministry area leader except for newly ordained clerics who haven't a clue how to run a parish much less a ministry area. Some long-time clerics I suspect would rather drink poison than take up that role.
I'm surprised that you haven't spent more time discussing this awful mess on the Ancient Briton blog. Who would have thought that the Church in Wales review would have resulted in such a dreadful mess." [My emphasis - Ed.]

Perhaps this should serve as the opportunity for other readers to share their experiences. To date the hopes expressed in the lead video are not evident. Instead there is anecdotal evidence of disillusionment and regret.

"Let anyone with ears listen" said one of the propagandists in the video. The expectation was for a "new flourishing", a vibrancy resulting in "re-imagining ministry, revitalising the churches and rejuvenating the people".

The Anglican News Service explained the plan thus:
"From ministry areas to community cafes, changes happening in churches across Wales can be seen in a short film now available online. The 2020 Vision film highlights stories from each of the six dioceses in Wales which show how they are responding to the Church in Wales’ strategy for growth."

There has been no growth, only decline, contrary to the expectations of Ministry Area devotees, much like the suggestion that women priests would revitalize the Church and halt decline. The reverse is true.

The only 'benefit' for the Province of Wales accrues to the bishops and an increasing number of senior staff while the workers beaver away to develop a system nobody really wanted apart from Archbishop Morgan's devotees. Compare the inactivity on other recommendations in the Review to trim administrative offices and downsize, possibly to three dioceses [Section 15 of the Church in Wales 'Harries' Review].

Better still the Church in Wales should be returned to the Church of England so that England and Wales can at least go down united.  Prior to disestablisment in 1920, there were four dioceses in Wales. The Diocese of Monmouth was created in 1921 and the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in 1923.

In 2008 "new figures" compiled after an analysis of membership of religious bodies revealed the numbers attending church on a monthly basis could fall from 200,000 to fewer than 40,000 over the next four decades, less than the average attendance at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge football ground. Church in Wales regular attendance figures were already down to 28,291 in 2016.

The bishop of Bangor said in Sept 2013 that the speedy adoption of Ministry Areas was for positive reasons about "new ways of doing church" but he acknowledged that "it is undeniable" that the Church in some places is in crisis. The position is much worse in 2018.

The "landmark report" by Church in Wales which recommended replacing parishes with ministry areas, was summarised by Wales Online in September 2012.

The Church in Wales claims that "Ministry Areas reflect huge changes which have taken place in our society. The parish system, as originally set up with a single priest serving a small community, was put in place when people lived and worked in the same parish. All this has now changed – the communities to which people now belong are very varied and people travel freely."

Given that the entire province of Wales with its six diocesan bishops including an archbishop is about the same size as a diocese in the Church of England, one has to wonder why the struggling Church of England has not adopted the idea.

Law & Religion UK commented: "Our post in July 2012 observed that many of the symptoms underlying the CiW Review were present, to a greater or lesser degree, in the Church of England, and there is clearly much for those within both Churches to consider" but there were important differences. Unlike other churches in the Anglican Communion [the CIW] does not have a fully developed system of synodical government. Suspending parishes in the Church in Wales is a much easier matter, legally, than it is in the Church of England and Deaneries, as at present constituted [in the CiW], are not always a natural geographical unit - fuller details here - indicating that it was easier to get away with in Wales.

Readers of Highlights which reports on the Church in Wales’ Governing Body meetings  might have expected a fuller explanation of 'progress' but the cat was let out of the bag by the Revd Dr Stephen Wigley representing the Methodist Church who "welcomed the greater co-operation between denominations brought about by the change to Ministry Areas", strengthening the view that the Church in Wales looks to Nonconformists and the 'Uniting' church for survival, see more examples hereherehere and here.

The first Ministry Area in the diocese of Monmouth was formally inaugurated in April 2015, consisting of nine parishes in and around Usk. Three years later the "Job of the week" announced on Twitter is for Director of Mission and Archdeacon of the Gwent Valleys. Details here.

Remuneration & Benefits package

• Archdeacon’s stipend of £37,115 p.a.
• Final salary pension scheme
• 4-bedroom detached house in Abercarn village, with easy
  access to the Archdeaconry and Newport (the administrative
  centre of the Diocese)
• Expenses for all travel from home

The path to nonconformity is becoming expensive. Clearly there is little to shout about. If the Ministry Area scheme were a success I would have expected to find some positive signs but 'Googling' reveals nothing of substance.

Perhaps commentators will provide more insight.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

When in Rome...!

Celtic Bishops visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.                Source: Twitter

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, unless you are among the "Celtic Bishops" visiting the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Then you continue doing your own thing regardless.

Not just one representative but the entire bench of bishops of the Church in Wales is in Rome for another Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity and takes place from 18 to 25 January.

Celtic spirituality has long since given way to secularism in the hierarchies of the "Celtic" churches where bishops masquerade as bishops of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church despite going their own way in defiance of the wishes of the Roman Catholic and Holy Orthodox churches who warned of the consequences for unity when women were admitted to the priesthood.

The Celtic bishops would have done better getting on their knees in the cathedrals of their ailing churches, begging for forgiveness for what they have done.

Postscript [19.01.2018]

The bishop of Llandaff has tweeted: "Celtic bishops finish our time in Rome with Anglican Evensong at St Paul without the Walls for the Week of Prayer for. Christian Unity ‘That all may be free’ "

What are the aims of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?
+ To pray as Christ prayed ‘That they may be one’.
+ To pray for the unity of all Christian people as we share in Christ’s ministry.

From The Irish News: "THE annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity starts today, heralding a period of prayer and reflection on the theme 'that all may be free'." - To do as they please?

Pray that the bishops do not get stuck in Rome  as a consequence of Italian airport workers going on strike. Oh I don't know though! Better if they stayed there and re-learnt the faith.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Dental extraction

An unusually expensive extraction!

Dental extraction has become the cheaper option for many UK citizens unable to obtain NHS treatment despite paying their NHS contributions.

 Private treatment including root fillings and crowns quickly adds up to bills for many hundreds of pounds. It is hardly surprising that extraction, often not the preferred option, is necessitated by cost.

 A report last year claimed that patients were having to pull out their own teeth because NHS dental practices are refusing to register new patients. The figures have prompted concerns of an “emerging crisis” in dental care in England, with the British Dental Association (BDA) accusing the Government of commissioning only enough dentistry to treat about half the adult population.

News broke in 2008 that the Government's contract with NHS dentists, introduced in 2006, had been such a failure that nearly a million fewer patients were visiting the dentist, and the number of crowns, bridges and dentures being fitted had fallen by more than half, while the number of extractions had risen. An estimated 7.4 million people cannot find an NHS dentist to do elementary dental work such as fillings.

Recent findings show that "Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital admissions, but communities across England have been "left hamstrung without resources or leadership". There have been calls for a crackdown on unhealthy foods and soft drinks to combat "spiralling cases of tooth decay" with an "urgent need" to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children's teeth to rot.

The food and drinks industry is of course motivated by profit. That sounds familiar. In many areas it is not difficult to find a dentist but it is very difficult if you want NHS treatment.

A debate on children's dental examinations and treatment is due to take place in the House of Lords on January 18. It shouldn't be too difficult for their Lordships to come to a conclusion.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Social care crisis

Source: ASCC

 Funding social care was the subject of Key Issues for the New Parliament 2010. It read:

In 1997 Tony Blair told the Labour Party conference “I don’t want [our children] brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long-term care is by selling their home.” Local authorities have been able to require people to sell their homes to pay for residential care since 1948. Thirteen years after Tony Blair’s speech, local authorities continue to do so. 

The system was seen as inherently unfair, penalising those who have saved for their old age, whilst those who have been less prudent are eligible for state-funded care.

The Money Advice Service web page includes a  table: Local authority funding for care costs – do you qualify?

Source: money Advice Service

 Age UK has a useful explanation of the means test when paying for care. The NHS also has a guide to care and support. Health and social services in Wales are explained here and here.

No comfort there for the frugal. Anyone who has saved for their old-age hoping to pass on their property to their children, especially now that it is so difficult to get onto the property ladder, is likely to regret the fact when the profligate are rewarded.

The Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England (also known as the Barker Commission) was asked whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose. Three problems were identified:

Problem 1: the system is unfair  Most health care (major and minor) is free at the point of use. Social care is heavily rationed and means tested. This leads to situations where people with dementia have to pay for their own care while people with cancer don’t. Both cases involve significant care needs but they get very different levels of assistance from the state. There is not equal treatment of equal needs.

Problem 2: the funding is separate  The NHS budget is ring-fenced, comes mostly from national taxation and must be spent on health. Publicly funded social care is paid for by local authorities through a mixture of central government grant, council tax and user charges. Levels of spending vary across the country. Deciding who pays for what is a constant source of friction which can impact on people who are caught between the two systems.

Problem 3: the system is not co-ordinated  The organisations that commission health and social care - 211 clinical commissioning groups for hospital care, emergency care, community care and mental health; 152 local authorities for social care; and NHS England for primary and specialist care - are not aligned. This creates inefficiencies with financial and human costs. For example, 3,000 beds a day are occupied by people who are fit to leave but are stuck in hospital while funding or assessment is resolved.

The current system is unfair, unjust and unsustainable. Bed-blocking up by 52 per cent in three years, NHS figures show. For example, Patients in England experienced some 177,000 days-worth of delays paffecting more than 5,900 beds a day in April 2027. "The problem was projected to cost the NHS £169m directly for the 2016-17 financial year, but the National Audit Office believes the overall related cost may reach some £820m annually, according to David Hare, the chief executive of NHS Partners Network."

Last January, YouGov research showed 53 per cent of people supported the idea of a 1p-in-the-pound rise in National Insurance, from 12 to 13 per cent, if it was used to fund healthcare, while 26 per cent opposed it—down from 37 per cent in 2014.

The Illustrated summary of the Barker Commission's final report posed the question 'How can we afford it?' giving examples of how almost £6 billion could be saved and suggesting a review of taxes on wealth and consider reforms to inheritance tax, wealth transfer tax, capital gains, property tax, etc.

They conclude, "Overall, the government should assume that public spending on health and social care will increase from 9.6% to 11–12% by 2025. The commission believes that in the long run this is affordable and sustainable" pointing out that it "sounds like a lot of extra money but it’s still less than other similar countries spend on health care alone."

Source: King's Fund

A report in the Telegraph shows that "the growing NHS crisis has been fuelled by the closure of almost 1,000 care homes housing more than 30,000 pensioners."

It comes as NHS figures show the worst Accident & Emergency crisis on record, amid a 37 per cent rise in the numbers stuck in hospital for want of social care, since 2010. Experts said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the spread of flu because they had almost no spare capacity to cope with surges in demand.

The report by industry analysts shows that in the last decade, 929 care homes housing 31,201 pensioners have closed, at a time when the population is ageing rapidly. The research from LaingBuisson show care homes going out of business at an ever increasing rate, with 224 care homes closed between March 2016 and March 2017, amounting to more than 2,000 beds."

For far too long Local Authorities have regarded care providers as charities resulting in business closures or demeaning 15 Min home care visits.

It is over twenty years since Tony Blair told the Labour Party conference in 1997 “I don’t want [our children] brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long-term care is by selling their home".

We can't wait another twenty years. Action to integrate health and social care is needed urgently, free at the point of delivery, raising revenue as necessary to assure equity. It could even be a vote winner.

Postscript [16.01.2018]

Revolution in health and social care urged in Wales

Nine leading international experts, chaired by the former chief medical officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey, have been looking at ways to try to put the health and social care system on a stronger footing. Ministers say a new plan will take into account the review's recommendations.

Without "significantly accelerated" change, services which are already not fit for the future, will further decline, the expert panel warns.

The NHS and social care will be expected to work "seamlessly" together to respond to a person's needs and to deliver care closer to home.

Friday, 12 January 2018

How queer does the Church in Wales have to get?

A year of Open Table with the LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in St Asaph            Source: Church in Wales

Those of us who look regularly at the Church in Wales web site to see what we no longer miss may have been struck by the paucity on news items lately. If the latest dollop of what ought not to be, "A year of Open Table with the LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in St Asaph", is a reflection of the church in Wales today perhaps it is just as well.

The UK’s first LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in the Diocese of St Asaph is celebrating a year of holding regular monthly meetings. "Our monthly meetings, called Open Table, involve worship and Eucharist but also an opportunity to learn from God and each other and socialise together" says the LGBTQIA+ chaplain, the Revd Sarah Hildreth Osborn.

She says, "the chaplaincy was set up to create a safe, sacred space as the Christian faith has something to offer everyone, including the LGBTQIA+ community." Have they not heard of the daily Eucharist when everyone is welcome without question. Perhaps they would prefer someone to be stationed  at the door to enquire if the worshipper is queer so that they can be given special attention.

Why can't they be honest? Their aim is to normalise homosexuality. The number of gay clergy is already disproportionate to society in general and we have priests in monastic orders who ignore the rules.

The Church in Wales we loved is in danger of becoming a feminist cult and refuge for sexual licence. The Church in Wales as we knew her is finished.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Minority mania

British Army recruitment drive.  Source: Telegraph                               CREDIT: ARMY/PA WIRE  

It has afflicted politics. It has afflicted the Church. It has afflicted schools. - the latest example here. Now it is afflicting the British Army. The advancement of minorities has reached absurd levels.

The latest government reshuffle boasted of fairness to women and fairness to ethnic minorities. With merit giving way to political correctness, some junior and middle ranking appointees must be wondering if, by upping the numbers of women in government and new ministers from ethnic minorities, their success had more to do with their colour or gender than merit. Selection should be based on merit not positive discrimination for political correctness.

Anglicanism is obsessed with sex and minorities while some schools seem set on confusing children even more than they need be when growing up by encouraging transgenderism which has resulted in alarming increases in gender dysphoria.  Toilet facilities which have stood the test of time are being changed to satisfy the sensitivities of a few transgender people and gender-neutral language has been introduced in place of gender specific pronouns to avoid making assumptions.

A new politically correct Army recruitment drive includes a series of films which ask "Can I be gay in the Army?" and "What if I get emotional in the Army?", in a bid to appeal to potential soldiers from different backgrounds. There is a clip explaining how space can be made available to allow Muslims to pray.

Retired Army officer Major General Tim Cross commented on the recruitment drive saying, "It happens to focus on the Muslim community; my point is we have Gurkhas, we have Sikhs, all faiths represented in the British Army, and what we don't want to be doing is isolating other people by focusing on these particular communities."

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said it was "neglecting the main group of people who are interested in joining" and will not solve the "recruiting crisis".

The head of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, said that the rethink was forced by the fact that there are 25% fewer white 16 to 25-year-old males - a group that traditionally formed the force's recruitment base. He said: "Our traditional cohort would have been white, male, Caucasian 16 to 25-year-olds and there are not as many of those around as there once were, and our society is changing and I think it's entirely appropriate for us therefore to try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to stay in that combat effectiveness."

That sounds very much like today's Anglican Church. Ignore the main group and advance minorities regardless of the consequences. There is a wider issue here. One of normalisation, currently being used by progressives in the Church, familiarity brings acceptance.

Islam is a supremacist ideology. Anyone who watched 'House of Saud: A Family at War' on BBC2 last night should be left in no doubt of the seriousness of the problem of funding so-called 'extremists', often fighting each other for being perceived as the wrong sort of Muslim. They are not extremists. They are following their faith to the letter as they understand it. For many it is what they have been led to believe.

According to a UN study, "Young men who leave their homes to fight for terrorist groups in Syria mainly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have low levels of education and 'lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith'."

Ironically the Quran cannot be verified and questioning the Quran is not allowed. In his article What, Indeed, Is the Quran? (H/T Anglican Mainstream)  the Rev James V. Achall, SJ writes:

"The Quran is a book that tells us of the life and mission of Muhammad, the prophet. The book specifically denies that Christ was the Son of God or that there is otherness in the Godhead. Yahweh and Allah is not the same God. In the Quran, Christianity as such is simply rejected as having no validity. It need not be totally suppressed if its members accept second-class citizenship and pay a tax. We may not like to hear this teaching, but no good Muslim, unless he is trying to deceive us, has any doubt that Allah is exactly as he is described in the Quran. The Quran is a book about man’s complete submission to Allah. It will gladly overturn the world to make this submission prevail. It will only fail if it is prevented."

By constantly embracing Islam's supremacist ideology it is being validated when it should be contested, explaining that it is Islam that has no validity and that failure to scrutinise the ideology condemns about a fifth of the world’s population to unnecessary servitude rather than God's mercy.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hunt hunting

Jeremy Hunt stays as health secretary with added responsibilities for social care. Source: Guardian
Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

It has been reported that Prime Minister Theresa May has "dropped a manifesto pledge" to hold a vote on the fox-hunting ban during this parliament.

It is a peculiarity of the British people that many appear to care more for animals than they do for people. Large legacies left to animal charities emphasise the point.

Some readers may recall Brumas, a baby Polar bear from the 1950s. An endearing ball of fluff to be hugged and cuddled. All changes when Polar bears mature into adulthood. Then a hug is likely to prove fatal. The 'Brumas complex' was applied to opponents of fox hunting who could identify only with the little balls of fluff, apparently oblivious to a carnivorous adulthood. Little has changed as 'pro' and 'anti' continue to square up over the issue.

There is no such contention over social care, only that HM government gets on with it. Jeremy Hunt has, according to reports, convinced the Prime Minister that he should remain in post as Secretary of State for Health with added responsibility for Social Care. The Sun says "Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to leave Health Secretary shows his dedication to NHS. Jeremy Hunt has shown he is hell-bent on improving the NHS despite the endless flak and financial woes,"

The Telegraph takes a different view: "Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, successfully faced down the Prime Minister when she asked him to become business secretary, forcing Mrs May to tear up her plans to promote or move other ministers who were already penciled in."

Whatever one's views, despite the endless flak and financial woes as the Sun puts, Hunt appears to want to do something about it rather then take the easy option and move.

That the two areas of responsibility, health and social care, should be joined up has been obvious to most for some time. In the current system each service is fouling the other creating blockages which cause misery and waste. Simplistically, the health system needs to get more patients out and fewer in.

Some of us have been through the hoop already, trying to arrive at a sustainable solution for parents, relatives and friends who are no longer able to care for themselves. Often they have been admitted to hospital out of medical necessity but when that has been dealt with they remain in hospital, bed blocking because of administrative procedures such as a social worker has not reviewed the case.

Even when appropriate care arrangements have been made because there is no alternative, the official stamp of approval is needed from someone who seems to work according to their own timescale even if it takes weeks.

That is not to say that the solution is always easy. Some patients will be able to return home only if appropriate domiciliary care is available. Others will prefer to move into a care home while others will need the more specialised care provided in nursing homes. Many people who could be cared for at home do not have sufficient private means to pay for their care. Inadequate Local Authority funding forces them to remain in hospital for no valid medical reason while they await suitable accommodation in care homes causing further blockages.

Carers do amazing work for little financial reward. Without their dedicated hard work the system would be in an even worse mess but local Authorities continue to undervalue carers. Last year it was reported that thousands of disabled and older people were receiving 15 minute homecare visits in England because almost a quarter of councils (22 per cent) – 34 - were ignoring Care Act guidance to stop the practice. That is unfair to both. If animals were treated the same there would be an outcry.

At the opposite end of the system too many people are using hospital Accident and Emergency units as primary care facilities. Millions of patients have been putting unnecessary strain on the NHS by seeking medical help for minor complaints such as colds, insect bites and dandruff, according to a report.

The crisis in general practice is said to be unprecedented: "Anyone who has visited their GP recently will be aware of the pressures: the struggle to get an appointment, the difficulty of seeing the same GP more than once, the rush to get you out of the door for the next patient."

The system is not working as it should. While there are individual pockets of excellence there are constant crises. Jeremy Hunt must not be tempted to kick the problem into the long grass with another inquiry. It is identified in his new title, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care - a joined up system with proper funding.

His smooth talk will not get Hunt out of this one. Delivery will prove Mrs May right. Failure will make them both the quarry.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The slide continues: Scottish Episcopal Church

The Most Rev Justin Welby announced sanctions against the Scottish Episcopal
 Church  at a news conference in Canterbury.  Source: BBC

"A major row is erupting in the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) with half the paid clergy in one region rebelling over the appointment of their new bishop" reports Christian Today. This follows the appointment of Canon Anne Dyer to be the first female bishop in the SEC. Canon Dyer is "strongly in favour" of gay marriage.

The protest follows the failure of the normal nomination process where church members within the  largely conservative Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney failed to name the required minimum of three candidates. The SEC bishops then took over the process and nominated former business/systems analyst Canon Dyer but without first consulting clergy or churchgoers in the diocese according to the report.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said last October that the SEC would be excluded from ecumenical and leadership roles in the Anglican Communion following the decision of the SEC to begin marrying same-sex couples.

The first same-sex Anglican church wedding in the UK took place in Edinburgh in September 2017 after the SEC voted in June to amend canon law and allow same-sex couples to be married in church.

Following the vote the Most Rev David Chillingworth, then Primus of the SEC, said: "A new chapter opens up and inclusion takes a particular form. This new canon affirms there are different understandings of marriage in our church. We affirm we are a church of diversity and difference bound together by our unity in Christ."

Bound in unity in Christ they may be but that is no excuse for deviancy. There is only one understanding of marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others and for life.

Chillingworth retired at the end of July 2017. His successor the Rt Rev Mark Strange said in response to the sanctions imposed on the SEC: "We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our Church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love."

Love means love in many forms. That the English language uses one word to convey different meanings of love is too convenient for those pushing same sex marriage.

Another ploy is to suggest that people will become accustomed to same sex marriage in time as they have to re-marriage of divorced people', a false analogy because divorce is about the absence of love, complicated by issues of annulment, consummation and the effects on offspring.

Carrying on regardless, the Anglican church is striving to reflect rather than inform society. Empty pews are the result but the new bishop of London was not bothered in her response to the problem in 2015 when the former nurse and midwife was appointed bishop of Crediton - hence her ascendancy in today's Anglican church no doubt.

Her attitude echoed that of Jan McFarlane, former Speech and Language Therapist, now Bishop of Repton. In response to the revelation that Norwich was the most godless city in England, the then Archdeacon of Norwich said that people were "doing their churchgoing differently" - staying away!

Postscript [08.01.2018]

Primus hits back after open letter criticises the appointment of Scotland’s first female bishop.

The Primus would be better employed examining his own conscience after seeking to justify same sex marriage using the simplistic slogan "love is love".

He now says. “Whilst, it would not be appropriate to disclose the internal discussions which took place among the bishops, suffice it to say, that the bishops fully believe and trust that they have been led by the Holy Spirit in their election of Canon Dyer."

 So the Primus stamps the SEC's gay marriage agenda with the approval of the Holy Spirit. The Church of England and the Church in Wales have been there before. If the Holy Spirit were to motivate anyone the signatories to the open letter would be more likely candidates having been informed by Holy Scripture rather than fashionable secular trends.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Hope and despair

His Beatitude Raphael Sako and Chaldean Bishop Shlemon Warduni celebratingthe first Mass  in
 Mosul since 2014, with Syriac Catholic Archbishop Mouche and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop
Nicodemus Dauod Matti Sharaf participating.  Source: ACN UK

Aid to the Church in Need reports: "The bells rang out in Mosul for the first time in more than three years when a church in Iraq’s second city opened its doors for Mass on Christmas Eve.

Up to the last minute, plans for the service at St Paul’s Church in Mosul’s Al-Mundshen suburb hung in the balance – until a group of young Muslims helped clean the church and make it ready – including erecting the cross [my emphasis - Ed.]

This is not what we have come to expect. Individual Muslims and Christians have lived peaceably side by side in many areas of the Middle East for generations but Christianity and Islam have fundamental differences - see Muslim-Christian Relations summary - which have led to endless conflict resulting in the death of many Christians and destruction of their churches.

In May last year, Egypt carried out airstrikes in Libya after at least 26 people, including children, were killed and 25 wounded in a gun attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians south of Cairo, the latest in a series of terrorist incidents targeting the religious minority (here).

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year. Most attacks have been claimed by 'IS militants'. In December, Coptic Christians in Egypt experienced a different version of Islam than that experienced by Christians in Mosul when nine people were killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, according to Egypt's interior ministry (here).

Egypt is regarded by many Christians as the home of Christian monasticism. Christianity in Egypt dates back to the beginnings of Christianity itself (here) but Christians, mainly Copts, are now a minority, estimated to be between 10% and 20% of the population.

Believed to be funded by religious leaders with cash from Saudi Arabia, Christian girls in Egypt are being targeted for kidnapping, forced marriage and conversion, according to Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world.

Coptic Christians in the south of Egypt renewed calls on local authorities for an end to discrimination after a number of churches were closed down it was reported last October. Two churches in two separate villages in the southern province of Minya have been shut down by the authorities, a statement by the Minya diocese said. It said worshippers were harassed at both churches and pelted with rocks at one of them.

While faithful Christians abroad risk their lives to attend church services, church attendance continues to dwindle in Great Britain. Photographs are cropped to exclude empty pews and video coverage, such as it is these days, invariably shows a few old ladies comprising congregations.

In most churches, gone are the daily Eucharist and the alternative service on Sundays for those mainly young people unable to attend the main service so they drift away, unlikely to return. I hear that even the Cathedral church in Bangor closed after the service on 31st and apart from a funeral Friday will remain closed until next Sunday.

Many of the old ladies making up Anglican congregations will be dead by 2035 when according to the Pew Research Center "Babies born to Muslims will begin to outnumber Christian births".

The plight of Christian minorities in Muslim countries should be plain for all to see. Individual acts of kindness are outweighed by repression and ruthless action in Islamic states, even against Muslims who seek free expression of their religious human rights.

The Pew Center forecasts that "In the next half century or so, Christianity’s long reign as the world’s largest religion may come to an end... Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group."

The spread of Islam needs no help from Christian leaders, examples here, here and here.

The Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups hold the first celebration of Muslim
Friday Prayers, Jumaa, in the Cathedral's North Transept in Washington, Nov. 14, 2014.
Larry Downing | Reuters | BDN

Writing for the International Business Times Yasmin Alibhai-Brown portrayed Muslims as the victims, "Why do Muslims get picked on at Christmas?" She finishes her piece with the words "Christ for us Muslims is a messiah sent by God. Why would we not remember and celebrate his story?"

Because, according to Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd Al-Aziz Fawzan Al-Fawzan , "while there is more leniency regarding secular or national holidays, participating in Christmas celebrations, congratulating Christians on their holiday, and sending them gifts is not permitted because Christmas 'is based upon a corrupt dogma that was refuted by the Quran'." His comments were broadcast on the Kuwaiti Al-Resala TV channel on December 3, 2017. More clerical objections here and here.

As the Saudi cleric says in his video broadcast, individual acts of kindness are just that but instead of challenging an ideology which is anti-Christian, from Archbishops downwards Anglican clerics are embracing Islam as a valid alternative faith.

Census figures for England and wales show that "the percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population". Validating Islam in the wake of immigration and high birth rates is likely to make the ideology more acceptable when leaked documents reveal even ISIS recruits have poor grasp of Islamic faith.

Perhaps when the country is predominately Muslim sympathetic Anglican clerics will abandon their Christian faith altogether as they have scripture and tradition to become Imams.





Egypt's Coptic Christians to consecrate huge new cathedral


Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

Muslims are projected to increase as a share of Europe’s population – even with no future migration.

Source: Pew Research Center