It was announced today that the annual Metropolitan Police Crimebusters Award goes to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England for a series of Pastoral Guidelines. In the citation the Council is said to have made a unique contribution to crime-fighting by its fearless identification of the causes of crime in the language of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.
‘The breakthrough,’ said a spokeswoman for the Chief Constable, ‘was the identification of the role of patriarchalist language of ‘obedience’ and ‘submission’ in issues of domestic violence and abuse.’
That, of course, was as long ago as 2006. Later Pastoral Guidelines identified the effect of the notion of a crucified God on a society increasingly troubled by violent crime. The authors of the Guidelines, for the first time, considered the effects on generations of young people of exposure to this gruesome image on a weekly, even a daily basis. Until the wearing of them was banned as offensive to those of other religions or none, children had even been encouraged to wear crucifixes round their necks.
Said a spokeswoman for the Archbishop’ Council: ‘We now see that cruelty to others is only to be expected from those who have been desensitized to pain and suffering by such constant exposure. It would be hard to assess the damage done over the years, among Catholics by the crucifix and among evangelicals but the penal subsitutionary doctrine of the atonement. By these symbols and doctrines violence to the person has been habituated in our society. It has even been sanctified and glorified.’
She pledged that the Church would purge itself of such images. ‘There are, in the tradition, other more positive icons,’ she said, ‘the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God.
We recommend that those become the focus of devotion, replacing the bloody symbols of a bye gone era.’
Could not the Church of England make a further positive statement about violence against women by promoting the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary, asked one journalist. The spokeswoman was not sure that things quite worked like that.