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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Down hill all the way

Jedi wedding                                                                                                        Source: Mail Online

Two news stories this week illustrate the incremental disasters that continue to distance the Anglican Church from her historic roots.

Jedi weddings similar to the 2016 Star Wars themed wedding reported in Mail Online could take place in Anglican churches if a private member's bill designed to allow Catholics, Methodists and other Christian denominations' marriages to take place in Church of England buildings is successful.

Prior to his elevation to the Lords, John Selwyn Gummer was a former Conservative party Chairman and Environment Secretary. He served on the Church of England's General Synod before converting to Roman Catholicism in 1992.

Now Lord Deben, he introduced the bill after finding "his daughter could not marry in his local Anglican church in Suffolk because she wanted the Catholic ceremony".

In a rare flash of orthodoxy for a modern Anglican bishop the bishop of Winchester warned the bill "also affords potential legal rights to the use of churches to New Religious Movements with which the Church of England does not have any existing formal ecumenical relationship".

This is not as far fetched as it might first appear. On their web site 'becometheforce' the Church of Jediism explains that Jediism is "a new philosophy supporting the idea of one all-powerful life energy Force that connects all living things in the universe together". That Star Wars is a fiction has no force.

The Church of Jediism offers Jedi weddings, naming ceremonies and funerals.

Lord Deben responded to the bishop saying that the bill "does not tell the Church of England to do anything...What we are doing is removing a legal impediment for the Church of England to make up its own mind. That is clearly different."

'Optional' is in vogue in modern Anglicanism. Supporters of same-sex marriage in church suggest that clergy should have the option to marry same-sex couples as they have the option to marry divorcees in church.

Opponents will get used to it, they claim. What actually happens is those who are not moved by the spirit of the age are mocked, cast as irrelevant and out of touch as the bishop of Shrewsbury tweeted in reply to Cranmer's suggestion that Ann Widdecombe should be in the House of Lords.

Ann Widdecombe was another high profile MP who converted to Roman Catholicism after becoming disillusioned with the Church of England. The ordination of women was the 'last straw'. The last straw is as varied as the people for whom it is the last. It has been the ordination of women in general, the appointment of a woman priest or bishop, the LGBTI agenda and same-sex marriage in church.

The supposedly enlightened respond naively that the answer for anyone who finds these changes problematic is the route taken by Gummer and Widdicombe but many Anglicans who are Anglican by conviction, catholic and reformed, cannot accept some aspects of Roman catholicism.  Instead they leave the church as the attendance figures clearly indicate. It will get worse as the priesthood is diluted.

'Hatch, match and despatch' is a term used to describe people attending church only for baptism, marriage, and funeral. Often that was their only contact with a priest. Today lay people are being trained to take funerals even in the Roman Catholic Church if there is no Requiem Mass. They visit the sick and housebound, sometimes administering Holy Communion, so priestly contact becomes evermore remote.

RC priests have to undergo many years of study before taking their vows but the lack of vocations has become so dire that any Anglican showing an inkling of enthusiasm is likely to be fast-tracked to ordination. The Archbishop of York is inviting Readers in the diocese of York to consider ordination to the diaconate.

For traditionalists in Wales that has a familiar ring as they watched deaconesses becoming deacons, the first stepping stone towards female episcopacy. As deacons they claimed that they were to all intents and purposes priests who were not allowed to say a few words in the Eucharistic prayer or pronounce absolution. As priest it was 'unfair' to deny women 'promotion' to bishop, the stained glass ceiling as secularists claimed.

It was refreshing to hear the bishop of Winchester take an orthodox stance in response to Gummer's bill. He said parliament was 'addressing questions of doctrine, creed and ecumenical dialogue, all of which ought properly to sit with the churches themselves'. Not that that stops all and sundry taking a view, thrusting their secular values on the church to be welcomed by those within who have their own political agendas.

As for the Church of Jediism at least they believe in a supreme force whereas Anglicanism has become a go as you please religion. One sensible utterance has emerged from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He said Islamic rules are incompatible with British laws. Not just British laws. They are incompatible with Christianity which is why Muslims who take the Koran literally feel free to attack Christians and demolish their churches.

Some Anglican clergy see no impediment to allowing Muslims to use churches for Muslim prayers, effectively turning them into mosques.

If Gummer gets his way no doubt more clergy will succumb to temptation to show their liberal credentials, so increasing the downhill slide.


  1. IRonic given that they were Catholic churches before 1535 but perhaps the HONOURABLE MEMBER could see if a ANGLO CATHOLIC service would suffice. but why cannot she wed in a CATHOLIC CHURCH of the Roman kind, you know the ones that were suppressed until 1829

  2. to clarify i am a Anglican of the TAC kind

  3. I wonder whether there is an actual legal bar on RC marriages in CofE churches, or whether the decision was made locally. I am a member of the Orthodox Church and wish for my body to be buried with those of my parents in the churchyard of the CofE parish where we lived at the time of my father's death. (They were both RCs and were buried after Requiem Masses - in my father's case in the local RC church, but in that of my mother an RC service at the main CofE town church; not the one attached to the churchyard.) When I asked the incumbent to give permission for this she refused - only CofE services allowed, she said. I mentioned two recent instances of Orthodox funerals in Anglican churches in which I'd been involved, but this cut no ice; I can only hope that when the time comes she will have been replaced by a clergyperson of more enlightened views.

    1. I don't think the incumbent was being difficult. Certainly RC weddings are not legal in Anglican churches. And funeral services in C in W must follow a CinW funeral rite. So that tells me you cannot have a RC funeral in an Anglican Church.

    2. Well, we did - although it was in England, not Wales. Still awaiting enlightenment on the marriage question.

  4. I suspect the previous incumbent felt himself above the rules. The matter of marriage is definitely a legal one. The Vicar of the parish acts as registrar in his own church for Anglican marriage. He cannot be the registrar for a RC wedding. Then a civil registrar would be required. A civil registrar cannot do this for a RC wedding in A building authorised only for Anglican weddings.

  5. Thank you for clarification re marriage. The same rule does not, however, apply to funerals, which do not have the same legal aspect.

  6. I agree about the abscence of legalities at funerals except that all funerals held in CinW churches must be with the rites of the CinW and cannot be rites of any other denomination. I woul be surprised if the same is not true in CofE

  7. How many CinW clerics use CinW rites for their other services? Many appear to use Roman rites for their daily Office - those that is who still say a daily Office. Likewise, many use the Roman missal instead of the CinW rite for the Eucharist. Typical pick 'n' mix religion.

  8. One must draw a distinction between the unofficial borrowing of non-Anglican forms of service by Anglican clergy, as instanced by Bob, and the lending of Anglican churches to other denominations for their own services. The Orthodox funeral I hope to have in the place of my burial comes into the latter category - as do numerous acts of hospitality to Roman Catholic, Orthodox and (in at least one case I know of) Methodist congregations for both regular and occasional services. Of the use by Anglican clergy of Roman liturgical material it is not my place to speak, although I have heard fairly compelling arguments in favour of the practice.

  9. Alwyn from Abertawe27 February 2018 at 14:18

    If we are talking about distancing the Anglican Church from her roots, what better could you ask for than a tweet from the eminent theologian, Professor John Milbank: @johnmilbank3 "Everyone must resist the disgraceful, small-minded, unimaginative and theologically illiterate attempt to replace Anglican parishes in Wales with so-called ‘mission areas’. Who could ever BELONG to those?"

    Let's see Andy Crap (and Barry Golfer) answer that one!

  10. Not entirely off-topic, as it involves 'Misery Areas.' I see Andy Crap has managed to appoint two new Archdeacons. Bob the Builder must be furious not to have been promoted. More to the point, Mary Stallard must be relieved to have - eventually - got the promotion she has long desired after Gregorious Maximus took the highly popular decision of clipping her wings in St Asaph when she appeared on a one-way ticket to the skies. Now the fun begins as we sit back and watch it all unfold... As Crap's track record with putting powerful women in high places isn't exactly distinguished, I might just pop down to Wm Hill and put a few pennies on the likely outcome. What say ye?

    1. All Andy's recent appointments have been gay men. Maybe she's 'transitioning'?

    2. Perhaps he already has?

  11. Ah well - so its back to taking photographs for Bob the builder then father. Although I do believe the troubled Town Council of Beaumaris is seeking to appoint a faith healer. Excellent fishing and cockle picking with splendid scenery

    1. Dylan from Dolgellau28 February 2018 at 17:00

      As always, Bangor gets everyone else's cast-offs. How long will she stay - and when she goes how well will it be hushed-up? There's a new expression in the Diocese: to 'Do A Mike West' (i.e. leave the Diocese without anyone being told about it).

  12. Good news for Bangor Cathedral - but not its choir!

    1. If the attitude of the BBC and the Anumpti production company remains the same as when they came to Llandaff in May 2013, it will be because they don't want to have to pay the Bangor Cathedral choristers.
      If any of them are in EQUITY or the Musician's Union, get the union involved.
      They are counting on not having to pay the school kids.
      Patently the Bangor Dean & Chapter don't give a damn about their choir any more than does the Llandaff Dean & Chapter.
      Which side of this dispute does Aled Jones come down on I wonder?