‘Paris’, said Henri de Navarre famously, ‘is worth a Mass.’ And one can see clearly what he meant. In a very modern (or as the historians now have it early-modern) way he was subordinating the theological to the political for tangible personal gain. (And so, incidentally, sealing the eventual fate of the Huguenots.)
But what are we to make of the compromises of our post-modern liberals? Why are they – in the Church of England at least – apparently happy to accept much less than they demand? It is a mystery.
Take the ordination of women, for example. The case was made very largely, on a priori ethical grounds. ‘I am compelled by what I believe to be the cause of justice,’ said Roy Williamson in the heat of the debate. And yet he was advocating, and the majority on that day accepted, legislation which in Schedules A and B enshrined gender discrimination in an Act of Parliament, and which moreover specifically denied the searchers the Holy Grail which they were seeking, and which alone could make sense of their imperatives: women bishops.
It was a curiously unprincipled compromise, born no doubt of an injudicious blend of impatience and pragmatism.
Further consider the case of Dr Jeffrey John. Dr John has always come across as a bold and principled advocate of the rights of homosexual persons in the priesthood. Why now, when a mitre is in the offing, has he apparently surrendered those principles? Why has he committed himself to the indefensible fudge of Issues in Human Sexuality? And why has he allowed the Bishop of Oxford publicly to commit himself and his partner to a chaste celibacy? Surely a little harmless clerical rumpy-pumpy is precisely what the whole campaign, of which he has been the leading light, has been about.
Then consider that GRAS, whilst posturing as the principled face of WATCH, is prepared to attack the Act of Synod, but resolutely defends the Schedules in the 1993 Measure. And consider that Revd Richard Kirker (always eager for any kind of ‘outing’) has failed to denounce Dr John for abandoning the cause and embracing the one form of clerical life unacceptable to LGCM.
It just doesn’t add up.