Heart of faithfulness

From Fr Giles Pinnock ssc

Fr Peter Frisey [Letters, January] laments that our primary cause as a movement – being ‘against women priests’ – is in danger of being lost in the plethora of articles on other subjects that appear in New Directions.

Is not our principal aim as a movement fidelity to the Catholic Faith tout ensemble, which demands that we should engage with a theological spectrum encompassing Scripture, Tradition, moral teaching and Holy Order? The ordination of women is not consistent with that Catholic Faith, and so we are absolutely unable to accept it, but not just for its own sake.

If our sole raison d’etre were to be ‘against women priests’, we would deserve to be seen – as we are by some – as little more than a misogynistic one-trick pony, and we would be little better than those who have single-mindedly supported the ordination of women at the expense of all else.

Surely, the ‘plethora of other articles’ provide proper and necessary context for the position we as Catholic Christians hold on the ordination of women; they are neither a danger nor a distraction.

Giles Pinnock

St Mary-the-Virgin, Kenton HA3 8EJ

Costs of disestablishment

From Mr Alan Smith

In his series of articles on Church and State, Canon George Austin has concentrated on one aspect of establishment, the appointment of diocesan bishops. This is a problem yet to receive a generally-accepted solution. Moreover there are other aspects whose change would have a major effect on the British Constitution, and there is a general need for any state to have some body with the principal role of pronouncing on moral questions.

The nomination of diocesan bishops by the monarch, now exercised by the prime minister, was not an Anglican innovation but a practice inherited from the pre-Reformation Church. Incidentally, an interesting, trick question is: ‘Who was the last monarch to nominate Roman Catholic bishops in the British Isles?’ (Answer: the Stuart exile, James III & VIII, who died in 1766.)

What is the best alternative to the current practice? As Canon Austin points out, the appointment of new bishops by the existing bishops would lead to a self-maintaining oligarchy. Neither would any form of popular election be likely to lead to an improvement. One possibility is to retain the nomination of diocesan bishops by the monarch but to remove the actual power from the prime minister.

An anointed monarch, properly advised, would be no more likely to make a bad nomination than a cabal of bishops, particularly if that monarch would be judged by the public and by history on the nominations that he or she makes.

There is not enough space in a letter to detail all the consequences of disestablishment but perhaps one will suffice. If the CofE (and Christianity) is fully disestablished, what will become of the coronation, the bedrock of our constitution?

In general, every state needs a recognized body to pronounce on moral questions. The evolving European tradition has assigned this role principally, but not exclusively, to the Christian Church. If the Church of England were disestablished, it would no longer have this role. Unless some other religion were established to fulfil this role, it would be necessary to enact some privileged legislation to specify a secular code and a supreme court to implement it.

The examples of the US and the EU are not encouraging: the US Supreme Court defended slavery a generation after it had been abolished in the British Empire and extrapolated a right to abortion from a right to privacy; the European Union seems intent on imposing a right to abortion on its member states, irrespective of the views of their peoples expressed through their parliaments.

In my view it is preferable to have a system in which parliaments may enact bad laws which later parliaments may change, than a system that enacts a cod« of values that future parliaments may not change and is subject only to the interpretation of judges.

J. Alan Smith

40 Albany Court, Epping,

EssexCM16 5ED

Still ranting

From Mr Alun Grahame,

Fr Frisey is a trifle unfair [January] in saying that New Directions is losing sight of the aim to ‘be against women priests’.

If, when I get my monthly fix, there isn’t one and normally two articles by Fr Kirk routing the monstrous regiment, I ring up Gordon Square to check that a raiding party of Affirming Catholics haven’t captured the HQ and seized the printing press.

Alun Grahame

25 Ceidrim Road, Garnant SA18 1LP

More on those stamps

From Mr Peter Gardner

About a week before Christmas I tried to buy some stamps of Our Lady and Child, at our local Main Post Office, only to be told that they had sold out, but they had plenty of the other designs. The gentleman who served me said that they had been issued with only about four hundred of the design I asked for.

Perhaps this explains that of the seventy to eighty Christmas cards I received by post only six had the design of Our Lady.

Peter Gardner

25 Cornflower Way, Southwater, W

Sussex RH13 9WB

Church planting

From Fr John Pitchford ssc

Some (many?) have been ‘un-churched’ through the ordination of women. Under existing legislation, it is not easy to help these people.

Tufton Books is writing a new tract on Church Planting. May I ask, through the letters page of New Directions, if any priest involved in church planting would please to contact me so that we could share information –