The orthodox constituency of the Church of England welcomes the appointment of John Broadhurst as Bishop of Fulham. Indeed Anglicans of all persuasions, who are committed to the Bonds of Peace, will welcome it for a variety of reasons:
It is the first serious attempt to bring a major leader of the traditional integrity into the diocesan episcopate.
It clearly and effectively undergirds the “London plan” for the foreseeable future and continues to offer an example to just about every other diocese in the kingdom.
It is a direct and deliberate encouragement to vast numbers of marginalised and discouraged traditionalists far beyond the diocese of London or the pastoral jurisdiction of Fulham.
Broadhurst is widely liked and respected, even by his toughest opponents and in any other circumstances would have been a bishop years ago. Many will say that, in choosing Broadhurst, Bishop Chartres was simply selecting the only serious candidate for this special task. Such consideration would not have deterred a lesser man from searching out a more pliable alternative and Chartres’ courage should be acknowledged.
Traditionalists, however, will not be dancing in the street. They will have noticed that, overall, in London diocese, there is a net loss of two seats. Stepney and Kensington will now be occupied by men of very different traditions. Willesden already is. They key test of whether Bishop Chartres is able to construct a full and working model of the diversity of the Church of England will come when the Bishop of Edmonton retires. Only the appointment of a traditionalist there will complete the balance of the diocese and state unequivocally that traditionalist leaders have an equal part to play beyond their own constituency and offer to the national church some hope of unity in mission beyond the traumas of the last decade.
CONSECRATION AND COMMUNION
Fr Broadhurst will be consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and tender consciences have begun to prick.
Let us, as orthodox, be clear about one or two things. Unflinchingly as we oppose what we believe to be the Archbishop’s doctrinally unsound and desperately divisive innovations we have never subscribed to the theory of “invalid sacraments” or “tainted hands”. That is the black propaganda of liberalism and has no place in a catholic understanding.
Those who have come to the conclusion that Anglicanism is a “busted flush” will, with integrity and with our love and prayers, have sought reconciliation with the ancient communions.
Those who remain will, presumably, have some interest in the Holy Spirit raising up Godly leadership, be praying for it and welcome it when it is given.
Any other position is like that of the Abelites who were so anxious to avoid perpetuating original sin that, while they married or remained married, they refused to indulge in that ghastly process which would perpetuate themselves.
Most traditionalists will go and support and pray for Fathers Broadhurst, Sentamu and Colclough and yet not receive communion. Why? Not because we believe it is an invalid sacrament – we do not. Nor out of personal animosity to the Archbishop. But because, and Archbishop George understands this, we have to bear witness to the reality of the divisions created and stand for all our brothers and sisters who have been unchurched and as a witness and call to repentance from the disobedience we believe has impoverished our communion and will lead it to further error.
We live in unsatisfactory times and we will be bearing the most honest witness we can to the perplexity and pain of the situation in which we, all unwillingly, find ourselves.
THE AGENDA UNFOLDS
On one thing homosexual activists and Christian traditionalists are absolutely agreed. The current position of the Church of England bishops is ludicrous and untenable. There cannot be one morality for clergy and another for laity. Either homosexual practice is immoral or it is not.
In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused traditionalists of being guilty of verging upon “ultimate blasphemy”.
In the USA the Righter trial has collapsed. The thrice married bishop has been acquitted because, although he knowingly ordained a practising homosexual, the court of bishops decided that there is no core moral doctrine preventing this. (Indeed the Righter judgement roves wider in its dismissal of traditional Christian mores than the presenting issue and, it should be noted, is made by the church with the massive and disproportionate block vote and whiphand at Lambeth 1988).
Meanwhile, in Britain, Lord Runcie has finally come clean about the worst kept secret in the Church of England and given, as always, his exquisitely timed support to the liberalising lobby. Those bishops who have grasped the fig leaf – “I have never knowingly ordained ….” etc – will be regarded with contempt by those homosexuals they have privately reassured and granted no more credibility than usual by traditionalists. Anyone who has undergone theological training in the last thirty years or more will know that the homosexual sub culture has been acknowledged, winked at and even encouraged by many now in positions of authority. Indeed those who have opposed it or questioned it have often had their own vocation and ordination questioned and any chance of preferment quashed. It is also a cruel slap in the face for those who have wrestled with the temptation and fought the long and lonely battle to remain celibate.
The question before the Church of England is no longer “Will they ordain or consecrate practising homosexuals?” The question is, “Will they stop it?”