Sunday, 29 November 2009

A guid new year in the Church?

Well, here's an interesting start to the new Church year:

The Diocese of Massachusetts (I think that's how it's spelled) have given permission for their clergy to go ahead with conducting same sex marriages. Yowls of fury will without a doubt be heard from the Global South of the Anglican Communion " They are ignoring the Covenant". Yes, indeed they are, and you've only yourselves to blame. Bishops ordained to minister to conservative congregations, crossing Provincial boundaries and that damnable Ugandan Bill. The sense I have is that ECUSA (the TEC) are finally sickened by it all and, now that the courts have begun to throw out conservative claims for the property and assets, they are going to proceed to do what they believe to be right and not what ++Rowan and the Africans want. Good.

I have to say that the Ugandan situation has absolutely changed my mind on what we do with regard to the Covenant. If the COU and their pals are really going to support legislation the like of which has never been seen since the Nazi era, then I regard them as abhorrent as the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa during Apartheid and we should deal with them in the same way we did with the Afrikaaner Churches who provided theological justification for their evil regime of choice. They are in a state of impaired communion with God and we as the Church must show them that. We do not have communion with them. They have sundered themselves from the fellowship of Christ by their wicked and wilful actions and until such time as they abjure them (and I don't think that saying the death penalty is bad, so just put gays in jail for years counts as abjuration), we ignore and shun them - financially, as well as spiritually. You cannot dialogue with evil and those who support this bill are evil or utterly deluded.

"Oh, but we must maintain dialogue" I hear you say. No, one of my heroes, +Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, had no truck with that or the Church that sided with Hitler in Germany in the 30's. He had no hatred for the German people (his beloved step mother was German) but he had nothing but contempt for Nazism and its apologists both at home and abroad. Like Jonathan Swift, he had a "savage indignation" in his heart when faced with injustice and he denounced it uncompromisingly. So should we. The Archbishop of Canterbury was less than impressive against Hitler (Lang, a Glaswegian), so Rowan Williams is in reasonably salubrious company. Then, as now, the case was made that to be openly critical would inflame the situation and quiet , behind the scenes diplomacy would bear fruit. Henson thought that was rot and only shaming the bigotry and inhumanity with the glare of unfriendly publicity would stop it - or at any rate spare the Church from the taint of collaboration. It was a matter of conscience and principle, not of politics, secular or ecclesiastical.

Happy Advent!


  1. Happy Advent, indeed! On our side of the pond, our Presiding Bishop is preferring to do the quiet, behind-the-scenes approach to Uganda. Of course, one can do that AND issue a statement expressing "concern" about the situation. I have long since abandoned the idea that our leaders will actually lead. But, my goodness, do we have to drag them along?

  2. Just the remember the wise words of Dom Gregory Dix OSB: "The sign for a Bishop is a crook and that for an Archbishop a double cross!" :-)

  3. Well said, John. What you describe ++Lang as doing in your last paragraph is exactly what Pius XII did in not speaking out against the treatment of the Jews. Oh, for a Henson now!

  4. Following the example, as we have done so many times before, of the Quakers, indeed. And, from the SEC, wasn't +Worzel ejected from his retirement (CoE, admittedly) suffrigancy (sp) for similar 'heathen practices' (even before 'civil partnerships' were law in the UK).

    And, I have to say, from the point of view of a Scot, very interesting heraldical derivation on the Diocesan crest.

  5. +Worzel was indeed deprived of his Assitant Bishop status in Ripon and Leeds. (I had that +Worzel kip on my sofa when I was a curate in London - gave the Vicar a real turn at mattins when he showed up!! He must have wondered what I had been up to the night before!)

    The coat of arms, o Evil one, are those of the Province, not the diocese and the saltire design quite deliberate in honour of our gift of Episcopal orders to the protestant Episcopal Church of the the USA (as it then was). The 13 stars represent the 13 colonies (oops, I mean States) who made up the Union when the Church became independent of mad King George.