A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Monday, November 16, 2009

Key to Anglican distress

Fr. Richard Enraght entering Warwick Prison in 1880The Revision Committee of the Church of England (overseeing the introduction of women bishops) has just given a snub to traditionalists by not giving any safeguards to protect their beliefs. Maybe this was a change of mind due to the Pope's recent intervention in the matter. It pleases the zealots of the winner-takes-all variety. They want a church without compromise to their heady mixture of secular notions and equality measures. One such person at the forefront of this bandwagon with bullbars on it is Christina Rees. She is a long-time proponent of browbeating her opponents into eventual submission. A lot of what she says is tempered with un-Christian sentiment and a desire to promote wordly ideas over the sacred.

She is chair of a group called Women and the Church and she says that the plans show the Church is committed to equal treatment. "This is wonderful news. It's a major breakthrough as it expresses the view that men and women are equal in the sight of God. I'm glad that we have not ended up with a political compromise and the committee has instead ceded to the will of the people." The implied barb is that those who do not agree with her do not see that men and women are equal in the sight of God. Of course, that is baloney, but her insidious detractions hold sway in the prevailing world. What is lost on her is that orthodox Christianity has never understood that men and women are "equal" in this world. They have complementary states of being for living out God's purpose. One without the other diminishes humanity. However, a crude equalisation of human beings is something traditional Christians cannot accept as being part of the Catholic Faith.

Many Anglican catholics are viewed at best as a mildly eccentric group and at worst as a unsavoury cuckoo in a very precise and politically correct nest. In my own family, my catholic beliefs within Anglicanism are seen as difficult to comprehend. Most prefer a religious adherence that never questions, never sets boundaries, but has the glow of a feelgood factor. Low on the doctrine, high on the octane. And please believe me when I say I don't mean this in a nasty way. They have said as much themselves.

Robert Key is a Conservative MP. In matters of religion, though, he is anything but conservative. More like a radical with a rapier. He is a man with little sympathy for pain of the consciences of dedicated priests. He wants no truck with safeguards or episcopal oversight. It's a love it or lump it arrangement. When this measure gets to the House of Commons, some odd alliances will come to the fore. Key has no desire for compromise or compassion. Pity!

With the Pope's provision for an Anglican enclave in the Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Anglicans are caught between going or staying. If we go, we may find the journey longer than we thought. If one reads Damian Thompson's blog or Ruth Gledhill's it is full of Catholics (RC's that is) deriding Anglican orders, verbally abusing the concept of "Anglo-Catholics" (they put the inverted commas round anything catholic to highlight differences). There are those, like Damian, who see this new Anglican Rite as a great thing. If we stay, we may get our PEV's removed and a female prelate demanding the legal right to officiate at a service. This happened in the USA when women bishops, Jane Dixon in particular, tried to enter churches where they were not accepted as sacramentally valid.

The answer to the distress is really simple. Anglicanism has always been a via media. Now it's turning into via one way. I'm not about to say women cannot be bishops if that's their belief. The position currently is that we have impaired communion. Anglicans are either in or out of communion with each other. Some have left the Anglican Communion altogether. It is far better to be together with mutual respect than not.

I suspect many will stay. If we get to the stage where a woman bishop is determined to enter a church formerly under the oversight of a PEV, then life will be hard. Maybe she might call the police in. Who knows? We've been here before when priests were put in jail for contravening a law that impinged on catholic practices and belief. It may happen again. But not if faith, hope and charity have a deciding part in future developments.


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