Existing precedent

From the former Bishop of Richborough

The church was lovely, a freestanding altar in a clear, light, fifteenth century chancel. The congregation was the customary country mix, farmers and one or two nobs from the big houses and a scattering of children, and men and women who worked nearby. The flowers and the music were both above average for a country congregation. This church, though, had no connection with the diocese in which it was set. Its bishop was one appointed by the Archbishop to look after this and similar congregations all over the country. The priest owed his allegiance to that bishop and no other.

So is this a dream of a third province? Not at all. It is happening now. The church was made over some years ago to the Royal Navy, who have a base next to it – a stone battleship, called ‘HMS’ though set miles from the sea. The bishop is the bishop to the forces.

If this can happen now, what is to stop it happening for us in the future? It does not irk the diocese, indeed it is probably a relief that the burden of yet another medieval church is removed from it. The Chaplain is seen as the vicar by the local community, who ask him to marry them and bury their dead and baptize their children – though they can still go to a nearby parish church if they choose.

The Church of England is always looking for precedents if it is to do anything new; well, here is just such a precedent, up and running for the benefit of the military. Surely we should expect no less, who are engaged in a war for the defence of the Catholic faith of our land?

 Edwin Barnes

1 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Lymington, Hants SO41 9HN

It was that bad!

From Fr Ivan Clutterbuck

The Bishop of Chichester does well to direct our attention back to 1969 to the passing of the Synodical Government Measure [ND June]. We had just emerged from the debate on the Anglican–Methodist Reunion Scheme which was carried on round the country with some interest and even passion at our church’s ground level, as I can testify.

We were then called to debate synodical government. This was too much for our exhausted parishes and few came to meetings – the subject failed to excite. In vain did some of us draw attention to the dangers of such church government, which would deliver our traditional faith into the hands of ecclesiastical party politics. However we were reassured by the clause which gave the House of Bishops the final say in any crucial decision.

Unfortunately bishops have seemed unwilling to block the democratic will. It was John Hind’s predecesser, Eric Kemp, who alone raised the alarm in the July synod of 1975 but he was not supported.

Ivan Clutterbuck

College of St Barnabas, Lingfield, Surrey RH7 6NJ

Keep it simple

From Fr Robin Ellis

Wouldn’t it be luvverly – if all who speak for the Catholic voice in General Synod were to unite behind Consecrated women? in the coming debate. It could then be seen not only as the best proposal on offer, and as the only solution for the constituency, but also as the unambiguously clear expression of those opposed to the ordination of women as bishops. Tea? No, thank you. We have something better on offer.

Robin Ellis

24 Lyndhurst Road, Exmouth

Don’t do it!

From Ms Caroline Windsor

I was surprised to read that a Roman Catholic priest has recently been appointed Grand Chaplain of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy. Whilst researching the current position on Freemasonry taken by various denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, for my recent book Freemasonry and the Ministry, the spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church referred to the Declaration published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983, which is also referred to in Fr Ashley Beck’s informative booklet Freemasonry and the Christian Faith.

This Declaration includes the following statement: ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgement in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrines of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’

As far as the Anglican Church is concerned, out of the 64% of senior Anglican clergy who responded to my questionnaire Attitudes to, and experiences of Freemasonry within the Church of England, two-thirds did not believe that being a Freemason was compatible with the priesthood. This issue is, I understand, due to be discussed by the House of Bishops at some stage in the future.

Caroline Windsor

15 Harbour View Crescent, Penzance

Pots and kettles

From Mr Robin Saunders

Once again, Lord Carey has publicly criticized his successor over his leadership of the church. Bishop Lancelot Andrews, quoting Luther, wrote that each of us has ‘by nature a Pope in his belly, and thinks he perceives great matters. Even they that believe it not of Rome, are easily brought to believe it of themselves.’

I for one remember Lord Carey’s condemnation as heretics those who disagreed with him on the issue of the ordination of women, and one still sees the resultant schism that he hastened by not only his non-consensual leadership, but also by his intemperate language.

Robin Saunders

29 Bedingfield Way, Lyminge, Folkestone, Kent CT18 8JH

It’ll be you next

From Mr Alan Graham

Readers of New Directions are probably neither open air preachers nor in the audience for such. However, two recent cases should alert those whose form of al fresco religion takes them to such places as Walsingham.

Harry Hammond, a veteran street preacher, unfurled a banner over his stand in Bournemouth proclaiming that homosexuality is immoral. He was set upon by a group of homosexual activists, knocked to the ground – and arrested and convicted for giving offence.

Phil Howard, whose preaching patch has been London’s Oxford Street, has been served with an ASBO, because of the annoyance allegedly caused by his megaphone, though even the local police regard the prohibition as a folly.

‘Ranting Prots, on all fours with the Walsingham Pump Protestors,’ might be the reaction of many ND readers. Think on. Today Phil’s megaphone, tomorrow the Walsingham Madonna? She too could give offence in multi-cultural, liberal Britain.

The freedom to express opinions, however perverse or eccentric, provided that they are neither obscene nor incitements to violence, are as much part of the British scene as wet Bank Holidays. Harry, Phil, and Opus Dei; The Countryside Alliance, The Guardians of Walsingham and the Walsingham Pump Protestors; Cricket’s Barmy Army, George Galloway and The Lord’s Day Observance Society – together with Forward in Faith – must be protected from today’s increasingly illiberal liberals.

If any member of Watch has read thus far, think on too.

Alan Graham

25 Ceidrim Road, Garnant SA18 1LP

Of dodgy icons

From Fr Stephen Cope ssc

The cover of the June 2006 New Directions has Our Lady flanked by the Twelve under the tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost. It is a venerable picture, and typical of many. But dare I say that it is guilty of a flawed reading of Scripture which could come back to haunt us.

If we read the Acts of the Apostles carefully, we will see that, after the Ascension, the Eleven are continuously at prayer with several women including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers [1.14]. Then Peter encourages the 120 to select a successor to Judas, and Matthias is enrolled among the Twelve [1.26]. The next verse has ‘them’ all meeting in one room [2.1] when they receive the Holy Spirit, and Peter and the Eleven stand before the now-gathered crowd, and Peter addresses them [2.14ff].

This leads to two potentially plausible readings. The first is that all 120 Christians met in one room, where all the Christians received the Spirit. On spatial grounds, this seems unlikely. The second is that the newly-constituted Twelve are assembled together, and they receive the Spirit – a reading which is supported by the enumeration at 2.14.

From the best reading, then, the Church can count itself as founded on the Twelve (male) Apostles, who passed the grace of episcopacy through the laying-on of hands to their successors. The trouble is Our Lady.

I am devoted to the Blessed Virgin, but if we count her as being the thirteenth person present in that room in Jerusalem, then suddenly, it seems, we have the first woman bishop, and much of what we are now fighting disintegrates. The best reading of Acts surely implies that she was not present. Therefore let us go back to holy Scripture, and reject the later pictorial representations, which, while surely only trying to honour her, in the end bestow on her an episcope which I feel sure she would have rejected.

Stephen Cope

The Vicarage, Rudston, Driffield

Hold together, brothers

From Mr Alan Dungey

Since I read New Directions on the internet, Philip Murphy’s review in the May edition on the various diocesan websites took my fancy. However, his remarks concerning Sydney’s website were undeserved: ‘On the Sydney site,’ he writes, ‘one is greeted by the Archbishop in suit and tie (liturgical wear?).’ Since when has welcoming visitors to a website been liturgical?

‘…and the claim that there is the desire to see 10% of the people of Sydney in Bible-based Churches in ten years. (And there was me thinking that the Great Commission was to the entire world, not just 10% of it.)’ It is hard to tell whether he is being flippant or serious, but in one fell swoop, Mr Murphy both doubts the sincerity of Sydney’s diocesan mission by describing it as a mere ‘claim’; and accuses it of falling short of the biblical standard.

What Archbishop Jensen’s welcome to the website actually says, in unmistakable bold print, is: ‘Important to our life here in Sydney is our mission: To glorify God by proclaiming our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, so that everyone will hear his call to repent, trust and serve Christ in love, and be established in the fellowship of his disciples while they await his return.’ The words ‘Our aim is to see ten per cent of the people of Sydney in Bible-based churches in 10 years’ are in normal print below.

Imagine what orthodox (or Bible-based – whichever you like) Anglicans could achieve if we supported each other’s evangelistic efforts instead of deriding them.

Alan Dungey