In a new and determined effort to put the Church of England beyond parody, the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries is creating an internet church for those who don’t like going to church on a Sunday. A part-time pastor will be employed to create the necessary website at a cost of £8,500 pa. Anyone can join ‘regardless of faith, position, sexuality, political view or geographical location’. The exciting initiative is being funded from the ‘Cutting Edge’ mission fund and e-piscopacy will be online in the form of virtual sermons, prayers and even confirmations from the great man himself. What next, online ordinations? After all that fuss there may be no need for the new new Bishop of Reading.
CLICK ON ROSARY
Tired of rattling your rosary on your tod? Can’t get to your nearest Roman shrine? Not to be outdone in technological modernity the Papists have come up with a new slant on an old devotion. Try logging on to www.virtualrosary.org/dload.php where friends of Our Lady can use the Internet prayer room. Meditate with your very own church mouse. One click for Jesus and press ‘Save’, two clicks for the BVM and put ‘Copy’ under Mary. Who knows, when Pope John Paul II added the five new ‘Mysteries of Light’, he might have had an eye on fibre optics.
At the York Minster consecrations of the Bishops of Blackburn and Knaresborough, the preacher, Bishop Paul Richardson, over-excited his episcopal colleagues by revealing that, at one time, visiting bishops expected to be greeted by a chorus of virgins. Already applications to the Church Commissioners are being prepared to incorporate this item into the expenses allowances. Whether some dioceses will be able to muster enough for a chorus, in these enlightened times, remains to be seen. In the meantime virgers will have to do.
A poster outside Pusey House, Oxford recently read:-
The Revd. Dr. Geoffrey Kirk
Vicar of St. Stephen’s, Lewisham
‘THE HEAVENLY MAN’
Our roving reporter confirms this was the title of the sermon and not a personal appreciation by Bishop Gene Robinson.
30 Days seldom awards laurels but… once again the Bishop of Willesden has set an example to his more retiring colleagues. He has published and put in the public domain a full record of his expenditure and even his discretionary fund account. Readers will recall that the former is what every ordinary clergyman is obliged to do for his parish treasurer and annual meeting where he can be, literally, held to account and questioned. It has long been a scandal that bishops do not have to produce their own accounts in similar fashion. Bishop Pete Broadbent has insisted on this laudable transparency in his own episcopal ministry and we only hope that his example will encourage his colleagues to do likewise. Accountability deepens trust and encourages good management.
YOUR PLACE OR MINE
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempt to kick the ‘sexuality’ issue into touch has had little effect on our American and Canadian cousins. While fudge-packer-in-chief Archbishop Robin Eames tries to concoct a form of words that will allow the Anglican Communion to do business as usual, the two sides in the dispute move further apart by the day. African primates refuse to attend meetings with Uncle Rowan if Frankie Griswold is in tow. Meanwhile the US Government is lining up for an unholy civil war over ‘gay’ marriages with ECUSA, predictably, in the Democratic Party corner.
Canada’s Council of General Synod is bringing the issue before Synod in May ‘to discover the mind of the Church’. The Council refused to sanction a debate on whether same sex unions were contrary to the teaching of the Church. That, they concluded, would be ‘hopelessly divisive’. Instead, resolutions offer a ‘local option’, leaving it up to the Bishop, namely diocesan autonomy. This is all, no doubt, what US Archbishop Griswold meant when, in an interview with David Frost, he said that, on the American Continent, ‘we do our theology in context’. It’s not what you do but where you do it.
It used to be estate agents who sold on ‘location, location, location!’ Now apparently it is archbishops and moral theologians.
The Group for the Rejection of the Parliamentary Experiment (GROPE) is marking the 2,400th anniversary of Plato’s Republic, which rejected democracy in favour of philosopher magi, as well as the 350th remembrance of Oliver Cromwell’s dissolution of Parliament in favour of dictatorship, by calling for the abandonment of parliamentary democracy.
‘The British Parliament’, says GROPE, ‘is able to practise institutional division because it is a law unto itself, allowing differing viewpoints to influence policy in a manner which hinders the declared will of the people expressed at the polls. The party system is ‘damagingly confrontational’ and parliamentary debate is ‘a shocking example to those seeking a peaceful acceptance of their own views’.
Moreover, it embodies institutional racism in proclaiming democracy as a superior form of government. ‘This’ says Dr Mary Poppins of GROPE, is ‘an inherent condemnation of Arab leaders like Col Gaddafi, African statesmen like Robert Mugabe and whole nations like the People’s Republic of China. We must not continue to make pariahs of dictatorships because of their racial origins.’
GROPE recognizes that the CofE has taken on board this questionable system of government. Dr Katharine Parr of GROPE comments that, ‘the present trend in the CofE is towards inclusiveness of views’ but the ‘confrontational and party nature of debate in General Synod encourages a constant and unseemly divisiveness.’ Defenders of scripture and tradition are at fault for fomenting this and the Church must move away from this outdated fundamentalism towards a membership and governing structure which ‘will obviate the need for debate’. ‘There is no place’, Dr Parr added, ‘in the modern world or the modern church for those who reject total inclusiveness and they must be excluded.’
While leading the bishops’ support for the ‘Gender Recognition Bill’ (and thereby inflicting a grievous defeat on the Christians who pay his wages), the Bishop of Worcester, Peter Selby made a curious aside during his disturbed and disturbing speech. After puzzling all non-Anglicans by his admission that ‘It is not at all clear to me what is meant by a church’, The Wooster went on to declare,
‘I happen to be a person who dislikes conflict – and I ask the noble Lords to believe that.’
The noble Lords missed the irony that this is a characteristic claimed by benevolent liberals and one-party state dictatorships alike. Orthodox opponents can bear witness to the truth of his statement.