Editorial

This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Forward in Faith – and what a 25 years they have been! They have seen us win the battle but lose the war on the vexed question of the ordination of women, emerging, however, with a settlement that should work and which continues to require us to defend it. Looking around the Anglican Communion the fate of other Anglo-Catholics has not been as positive. They have been further marginalized and persecuted, and our prayers are with them, particularly for our near neighbours in Scotland and Wales. In the United States and Canada there has been a fragmenting of the catholic movement into different jurisdictions and rival factions. These fractures have not allowed for a strong voice for catholic Christians in the Anglican Churches there. These divisions must be avoided here in England. If we cannot speak with a united voice, if we cannot get behind our bishops, the solution is not to go off and join, or, indeed, found, another Anglican denomination. If Forward in Faith and The Society are to be able to have a ministry and mission for the next 25 years we need to continue to work for the unity of our catholic movement. If such unity is not possible, if we were to lose sacramental assurance, then the solution does not come in joining with yet another smaller denomination or grouping, but rather in looking for a larger and more stable place in which to minister. Jesus prayed that we might all be one and this needs to be our focus. To that end we need to ensure that our movement is at the centre of ecumenical endeavour and discussion, for example, through the work of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and other ecumenical bodies in the church. In doing this we show that there are still parts of the Church of England that hold and teach the historic faith and wish to share that faith with others. In our parishes we also have a part to play in local ‘Churches Together’ groups and ecumenical projects. The focus of Forward in Faith over the past 25 years has necessarily been on the political nature of the church. This work will not go away: Forward in Faith will continue to speak out against those who would undermine the settlement with regard to the ordination of women, and we will continue to defend the nature of the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of Marriage. There are those who seek to undermine the nature of the Church; and our task is to defend the historic faith – not as a museum piece but as something that transforms lives: something that has transformed our lives, and that we believe can transform the lives of others. This means we need to think seriously about our theology; in so many parts of the Church of England theology has been exchanged for feeling. We need to make sure that we in the catholic movement are fully engaged in theology: this may not always win the day in the General Synod or in local discussions, but it is an expression of the way in which we remain true to our heritage and a sure way to look to the future. As a catholic movement we do not live in a vacuum, and there are other groups in the Church of England who do not share our theological objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood but nevertheless share our catholic outlook. There are calls for us to work more closely together in mission and evangelism. Careful thought and theological clarity on both sides will help us to perceive how this might work and flourish. There will be things we can do together and things we cannot: eucharistic presidency will always be at the forefront of our concerns here. There are those who would be glad to see the settlement ripped up and thrown away and our movement removed from the Church of England. Our task is to prove that not only are we here to stay, but that we are here both to stay and to engage with others both within the Church of England and outside it.

2018-10-22T15:38:32+00:00 November 2017 Articles|