A member of the editorial board got something of a surprise in his post last month. A letter, sent by him, addressed in block capitals and with the correct postcode, was returned by the Royal Mail. The explanatory sticker on the front declared, ‘We were unable to deliver this item because…’ followed by a large tick in a box labelled ‘addressee unknown’. All the more peculiar as the address was Lambeth Palace!
CELIBACY LOSES AUTHENTICITY
Fr Oliver McTernan, one of the greatest living exponents of liberal Roman Catholic chic, has quit the priesthood. He no longer finds celibacy ‘authentic’ but won’t tell us if he plans to marry. Suffice it to say that the ghastly old Pope is to blame. McT, who was ordained in the vast excitable wave of deconstructionists that followed Vatican II and laboured long and hard to make Catholicism unrecognizable, is packing it in. Apparently too many of the younger clergy view his generation’s desperate liberalism as a mess they’ve got to clear up.
McT was a regular contributor to Thought for the Day – a sort of Roman Jim Thompson – and has taken the final logical step of his views on women, divorce, homosexuality etc etc etc. Can this be the same Fr Oliver McTernan who so forthrightly criticized Anglicans for leaving their Church as a matter of conscience?
IT’S ME, IT’S ME O LORD!
Richard Holloway, former Primus of Scotland, former Grand Mufti of Affirming Catholicism, has finally gone and said it. Traditionalists, who accused Holloway of heresy and, later, near-atheism, were denounced by the Anglican establishment as cruel and judgmental. Not any more, pal.
Dunprayin’ Dick has told an audience in Stirling, just after Easter, that religion is all ‘made up’. ‘Essentially’, the man the BBC chose to speak on Good Friday tells us, ‘we are talking to ourselves.’ Religion is a human invention. This great discovery came to him, apparently, when he realized that you couldn’t relativize the Word of God without undermining the whole thing. This, he now confesses, was most obvious in the ‘reforms’ the Church had to make in the role of women. Quite so.
Indeed, the need to correct our previous thoughts (or the Word of God as it used to be called) was the very genesis of that noble body of former Catholics in search of preferment – Affirming Catholicism. Bad news for his former colleagues there, though. The new self-worshipping Dick admits that ‘liberal Christianity is probably the most terminally ill of all the paradigms (of the Faith).’
Richard Holloway is still collecting the pension of the former Bishop of Edinburgh.
WORLD OF WOOSTER
Oh dear! The sacking of the orthodox clergyman at Kidderminster, Charles Raven, does not seem to have done much for Worcester diocese. The proprietor, the enthusiastic sponsor of the bizarre ‘Christian Sexuality’ website, Peter Selby has had to report that giving has gone down. He is currently ‘freezing’ two of Worcester’s vital central posts, Industrial Missioner and World Mission Officer, prior to setting his Suffragan on the real task of cutting back on parochial clergy. Selby, who has held a bewildering array of jobs without ever running a parish, knows just where to cut the fat – the front-line!
One of the most senior, able and accomplished priests in Forward in Faith was recently called for his assessment by the local Suffragan Bishop. Egged on by close friends, he asked the visiting prelate how, in the light of the Act of Synod, he saw his future career? After a shuffle of embarrassment, the bishop said that, ‘in present circumstances’ he did not think there would be any ‘opportunities’. But then he added, ‘But you come from that section of the Church which has a great love of the parochial ministry and desire to stay in it.’ So that’s OK then.
Surely he can’t be suggesting that bishops are drawn from those who don’t like being priests and can’t wait to get out of the parish?
MACNOISE GOES QUIETLY
The Dean of Clonmacnoise, the Very Revd Andrew Furlong, has resigned rather than face a Church trial for good old-fashioned heresy. Furlong, who views Jesus as a ‘ misguided end-time prophet’ rather than the Son of God and Saviour of the world, took his decision to stand down, apparently, in order ‘to prevent further damage to the Liberal cause’.
What can this mean?
Well, of course, there is no doubt that a string of witnesses for the defence could be called. They could vouch for what a jolly good chap Andy is. They would also be obliged to spill the big secret that, as with the former Bishop of Edinburgh (see above), there are any number of Anglican dignitaries in the British Isles who would not gravely dissent from Andy’s perfectly reasonable assessment of poor old JC’s obvious limitations.
HERE’S TO YOU MRS. ROBINSON!
Fr John Greatbatch, a delightful and encouraging traditionalist with one of the few growing churches in Cornwall (St Paul’s, Charlestown ), recently appeared on Auntie’s most successful experiment in Social Darwinism, ‘The Weakest Link’. The lovely Anne Robinson, national icon of triumphant feminism, asked ‘Johnners’ if he was in favour of women priests. He confessed his sin. He wasn’t. There followed a vituperation which, in a gentler age, might have been reserved for unashamed baby eaters. ‘Johnners’ was duly voted off for his ‘ misogyny’.
We look forward to the appearance of the next Muslim on the show. No doubt he will be asked why there are no lady Imams and duly subjected to verbal corrective therapy for his barbaric and medieval beliefs.
Well done the BBC. It’s a privilege to pay the licence fee.
Jezebel’s Trumpet has recently run a supplement on the candidates for Canterbury. One candidate stands out from the crowd. Headlined ‘A hero to his own team ‘, we learn that ‘it is difficult to find anyone to say a critical word about him’. Indeed, the article is a criticism-free zone. There are no weaknesses except overwork. ‘Hard working’, ‘ good diocesan’ , ‘ all-round good guy ‘, ‘would do the job [Canterbury] really well’, ‘ strong spirituality’, ‘accessible’, ‘ helpful’, ‘ popular’, ‘ outgoing friendliness’, ‘ team player’, ‘ full of creative ideas’, ‘gets on well with Evangelicals though he is a moderate Catholic’, ‘better than most at grasping nettles’, good in the House of Lords and with the media, ‘compassionate’, ‘rarely angry’ (anger apparently reserved for ‘cheap worship’ and when ‘traditional Anglicanism becomes un-Christian’). He is an expert on education, prayer, art, liturgy, ethics, media, the Palestinian problem etc etc.
Who is this remarkable man?
Step forward St Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans, the obvious choice for Canterbury.
This rigorous critique was put together by the Editor of the Church Times, Paul Handley. Coincidentally, Paul’s wife, Terence Handley MacMath, is a priest in St Albans town centre and the happy couple occupy a luxury pad a mere stone’s throw from St Christopher’s Palace.