Faithful witness

From the Revd Anthony Bell

For the past twenty-eight years ALDU [Association for the Defence of the Unborn] has consistently, through regular bulletins, kept before the members of the legal profession and their medical colleagues the persistent disregard of the clauses which were inserted into the 1967 Abortion Act to give some minimum safeguard to the most vulnerable of all human beings.

As from the beginning of this year, the Association has reluctantly decided to bring its activities to a close. This end to a brave and patient watch of witness should not be allowed to pass without acknowledgment of the immense debt that all who support the rights of the unborn owe to these committed members of the legal profession from all its branches.

They have sought by courteous and careful reasoned argument to sustain the case for the right to life from conception to natural death, in the face of the relentless pressure in favour of personal autonomy in decisions on termination of pregnancy. It would not be far-fetched to state that ALDU, whose list of members grew to 3300, has for all the years of its witness acted as a keeper of the conscience of the profession.

Never has there been a greater need for doctors and lawyers to be trained to be fully aware of the impact of laws upon the most vulnerable where the careful limiting provisions inserted by the legislators are disregarded in the letter and in the spirit.

Anthony Bell, Walsingham House, Ilchester Road, Chariton Mackrell, Somerton

Catholic? Ha!

From the Revd Dominic Stockford

I saw with interest the recent article and subsequent letters regarding the Free Church of England. I would simply like to comment in reply to John Fenwicks claim that the FCE has a ‘Reformed Catholic’ identity. I do not want to get into a lengthy debate about the possible meanings of Catholic (which he uses with a capital C), but the FCE that I joined has enshrined in its Constitution that it is a ‘Reformed Protestant Evangelical’ denomination – a very different beast to that which he portrays.

Your readers who know of the split within the FCE may now understand why the ‘Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England’ has taken the stand that it has, and separated from the rest of the body.

Dominic Stockford

Christ Church Rectory, Teddington TW118BX

Submissions please

From Fr Willliam Davage

I have been asked by the Forward in Faith College of Deans as part of the initiative Making Disciples: Towards a New Province, to chair a Working Party to consider Formation for Holy Orders. This would encompass the process from the discernment of a vocation, theological and pastoral education and training, and the provision of post-ordination training.

I am happy to receive any submissions or suggestions from any quarter to inform the report.

William Davage, Pusey House, Oxford OX1 3LZ

Had another chairman/convenor written a letter we should have published it. All interested readers are urged to go to p 30 and consider supporting any one or more of the working parties.

Between two stools

From Fr Ernest Skublics

As a faithful (if sometimes annoyed) reader of the Tablet, I was amazed the other day to see Forward in Faith get a mention in Clifford Longley’s column. It was, as expected, not a sympathetic mention. Longley does not like any conservatives, whether they be Anglicans, Romans, or Popes.

His speculations on the possible successor to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor brings up the old Roman-Anglican conundrum: who should Rome be talking to? If Long-ley’s bias was shared by the Archbishop of Westminster – and, indeed, by Rome – we might as well put a hundred-year moratorium on all ecumenism.

It is depressing to be accused of sectarianism, and, indeed being pushed in that direction, for being more passionately committed to Catholic unity than those who pay lip-service to koinonia while promoting their separate and incompatible agenda.

The oft-quoted ‘fervent hope’ and ‘overwhelming desire’ of the Holy Father ‘that the Anglican Communion stays together,’ along with the apparently official resistance of Rome to entertaining the resto-

ration of communion with anything less than the entire Anglican Communion, under the present and foreseeable circumstances, in effect pushes away all Catholic Anglicans wishing for such restoration.

Prospects for the entire Anglican Communion, if it stays together, of effectively pursuing restored communion with Rome in the foreseeable future are nonexistent. Many of our persuasion must find the papal wish for the impossible, rather than accepting half a loaf, exceedingly painful and inappropriate. Are we to be pushed to become an autonomous sect, because we are too Catholic for the Church of England and not Anglican enough for the Church of Rome?

Ernest Skublics

Orthodox? Ha!

From the Revd Ian Wetmore

The Revd Tom Parsons wrote from the States [ND April] to say, ‘Those leaving TEC seem hell bent on joining African or South American bishops without even glancing our [the Continuing Church’s] way, even though it is unclear where these bishops stand, beyond the homosexual issue.’

‘If you love Jesus, read your Bible every day, and think gay sex is bad, then you’re an orthodox Christian,’ seems to be the working definition of’orthodoxy’ among the membership of Anglican Essentials Canada, which is the closest thing we have to ‘the Network in the States.

‘Beyond the homosexual issue,’ it seems that most of the priests, laity and congregations seceding from TEC don’t consider the Continuum a viable alternative, because they haven’t yet been convinced of the need to abandon their revisionist liturgies (the 79 BCP in the US; the ’85 BAS in Canada) and the notion that women can be ordained.

What I wonder, with regard to these ‘orthodox,’ is how tolerant they will be towards FiF members once they’re nicely settled in their new institutional digs.

Ian Wetmore St Mary’s Church, York, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Letters for publication should be sent to: The Editor New Directions 2A The Cloisters, Gordon Square London WC1H OAG