Paul Plumpton reports from the FiF National Assembly
The two resolutions on diocesan quota were published last month on p.30 as 2006/08 and 2006/09.
I was happy to propose these two resolutions on behalf of the National Council, resolutions in which I firmly believe and which have the full backing of the Council. It seems to me obvious that though the diocesan quota/parish share is a voluntary contribution, in all normal circumstances we have a serious moral duty to pay it. If we want an ordered church life and a fulltime professional ministry, we shall have to pay for them, even in the new province.
This is not to say we should never question how the Church of England mis-spends our money. Why, for example, are there twice as many bishops and archdeacons in the national church today as there were in 1908, when there were considerably more Indians (lay and clerical) and a lot fewer Chiefs? Such questions apart, payment of the quota is a serious obligation, and the Council did not propose these resolutions lightly.
The Resolutions are only relevant in the most serious situation, namely when all hope of a negotiated and satisfactory provision for our needs is at an end. The key words in the Resolutions are ‘in the event,’ and it is to such a circumstance alone that they refer.
If we have understood truly the issues that have confronted us for the last fourteen years, we shall see how serious such a situation must be; it would spell the end of any Anglo-Catholicism that had doctrinal and sacramental integrity. If there is no adequate provision, then we shall have no future, for what will be left without Catholic order will be nothing more than high-church icing on a protestant cake. If we reach that stage, we shall have nothing left to lose, and our only remaining weapon will be withdrawal of the money until adequate provision is made.
The passing of these Resolutions overwhelmingly was an expression of our corporate determination to do all things necessary to bring about a satisfactory structural solution, and was entirely consistent with Resolutions passed by the Assembly in previous years. By passing these, we have sent a clear signal not just to our opponents and to our less determined sympathizers, but to ourselves – that we truly mean business and that we will not be fobbed off with less than adequate provision.
Should we reach the point of women bishops and no adequate provision, then the Church of England, whatever it says to the contrary, will have betrayed all its former promises and assurances of our equal worth and value as good Anglicans, and will effectively have unchurched us and practised ruthless ethnic cleansing. At such a point, our moral obligation to pay up will be at an end. If such a point is reached, when theology, reason and justice are finally ignored, we have a duty to stick to our guns. There is safety in numbers and strength in unity.
When Cortez reached the New World, he dragged his boats up onto the beach and burnt them. His men were therefore well-motivated. If the hypothetical day envisaged by these Resolutions should come, we shall all need to be well-motivated, or all will be lost. ND