GEMS FROM THE CREM
1) One of our northern correspondents in the post-mortem operative industry reports a recent macabre musical affirmation of belief in the bodily resurrection. As the casket of a ‘much loved’ lady trundled through to the fireplace of faith, mourners were enveloped by the husky tones of Eartha Kitt inviting them to ‘Touch me, feel me’. All very scriptural. Clearly the deceased was not a member of the Modern Churchpersons Union.
You couldn’t make it up.
2) A Midlands clerical correspondent was a waiting his client’s turn on the back burner recently when the Superintendent invited him into his office. To our correspondent’s surprise he saw a list of several of his diocesan colleagues on the office wall under the legend, ‘The Top Ten’!
Were these, he enquired of the Superintendent, the best officiants available?
‘Not quite’, replied that chief cremulator, ‘these are the worst singers we know it. No 7 is in the chapel now. Listen to this!’. At that he turned up the volume to revealed the offending clergyperson loudly and confidently murdering ‘Abide with me’!
In Distinguishable Sacraments
The embattled Tory leader, Ian Duncan-Smith, was lately reported (in the national press!) to have attended a nuptial mass at St Stephen’s, Lewisham ( proprietor, one G Kirk ). To the astonishment of fellow left footers he apparently received Holy Communion there, contrary to the disciplines of his Church. Before the Cardinal adds to the mounting misery of IDS, by carpeting him for breaking the three line whip, one thing must be said in his defence. No one could possibly know that St Stephen’s is not a Roman Catholic Church from its liturgy. The only clue might be that Father Kirk does it rather better than most churches of the Italian mission to Ireland.
PLAYING THE GAME
The Archbishop elect, Dr Rowan Williams, is on a steep learning curve. A quarter of his diocesan bishops have signed a letter sent, exquisite irony, by Michael Turnbull, Bishop of Durham, warning him about his public lack of caution on homosexuality. Once the Chief Druid is back in the Church of England he will, of course, still be expected to do what he believes, namely ordain practising clergypersons. He must simply never admit it and, if caught, pretend he didn’t know. That is one of the rules of The Club.
The 30 Days office is snowed under with priests’ and people’s complaints about the latest quota demands. Two small examples will give a flavour. A priest who has been in his parish just over a decade has seen his quota rise from £14,000 to £60,000. Another parish, currently on £35,000pa diocesan tax, says that if the percentage rises of the last four years carry on until 2010 their quota will be £70,000. Both examples have one priest. Current weekly per capita giving in each parish is £8 plus per head.
While the national economy enjoys the lowest inflation rate for years and years, the Church of England still cannot harness the monster in its own economy. Even worse is the overheated imagination that goes into producing figures for parish consumption. Dioceses are currently quoting the cost of a priest to the diocese as £35–38,000pa.
What are the real figures?
The following are average annual figures :
Stipends £17–18,000, NI £1,500, Council Tax £1,000
Parsonage £2,500, Pension £4,500, TOTAL = £27,500
Then deduct Glebe rental etc. £2,000 Fees £2,000 TOTAL =£4,000
TOTAL NET COST = c. £23,500
More financial nonsense. In the Great 10th anniversary celebration of the Careyite Schism much has been made of the annual ‘burden’ of compensating departing clergy. Some careless lobbyists have been freely quoting an annual figure of £12.5m (that is, 8% of the Church Commissioners income.)
As only just over 100 are still in receipt of compensation, averaging c.£11,000 pa, the true annual bill is about 10% of the quoted figure. The £12.5m in the Accounts is attributed to clergy compensation, £5m to accounts and various unspecified sums to ‘other Church bodies’.
Had clergy enjoyed employment rights and been able to sue for constructive dismissal, the cost to the Church of England’s discredited management would truly have been in telephone figures. As it is, dispossessed clergy cost the Church less than 10 per cent of the annual bill for Dr Carey and his episcopal chums who so cheerfully evicted them.
The Church of England Newspaper reports that the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, will mete out ‘strong discipline’ to any clergy in his diocese whom he discovers in an ‘active homosexual relationship’. The quiver of excitement in presbyteries across the capital can be measured on the Richter Scale.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Woman BBC Radio Reporter: Women’s ordination has been accepted. How can you set your private opinion against the mind of the Church of England ?
Fr G. Kirk (for it is he): I imagine that Cardinal Ratzinger, the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Patriarch are wrestling with much the same dilemma.
FIGURE IT OUT
What is the organization every ambitious young clergyman should seek to join? Which organisation had the private support of 24 bishops at the last count? Which lobby group has had the Primus of Scotland, the Archbishop of Wales, the Presiding Bishop of the United States of America and now the Archbishop of Canterbury among its leaders? Which politically correct club publishes endless material as if it were an official body of the Church of England?
You’ve guessed it, Affirming Catholicism.
But this is all rather strange. At the last count, it had a tiny lay membership and its annual budget was only just over £30,000, slightly less than the microscopic Modern Churchpersons Union. Some things don’t quite add up.