|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.