As the Bishop of Burnley comments elsewhere in this magazine ‘time is short’. We are entering the real endgame of the process considering the legislation that will allow women to be consecrated to the episcopate. This is not the time for us to lose our energy, vigour or will. We must continue to pull together, to work together for our common future whatever that may hold. We are committed to the synodical process and to the work of the new Society. We welcome the publication of its constitution and look forward to seeing how this develops over the months ahead. We need to continue to be clear, we need bishops with jurisdiction, bishops who can care for and minister to their people. What is also clear is that we need to work together as Catholics and Evangelicals to secure our common future.
Much is at stake and it is only by supporting one another that we can hope to ensure that we have a future. Catholics and Evangelicals must continue to work together, placing their dedication to the Christian faith at the centre of all that they do and holding fast to the Anglican tenet of the centrality of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. There is still so much to fight for, so much to gain. We will not and must not be intimidated by scare tactics or by being told that our position is not a valid one.
As the Mission Society develops it is to be hoped that Catholics and Evangelicals will continue to find common ground to work together. Our constituency is not a single issue constituency: we are fully engaged in the work of mission and evangelization.
Our parishes seek to serve our communities, bringing people to faith and supporting them as they explore that faith. We want to work with all of our brothers and sisters in the Church of England
but for this to happen our views need to be respected and our desire for full and suitable provision within this legislation must be listened to and acted upon. Fr Tony Delves who is working with the Catholic Group in General Synod and with Catholic Groups in Diocesan Synods summarizes what is at stake:
‘In the end the fate of ‘traditionalists’ is not the most important issue at stake. Whatever happens to us, God is faithful and will not see us abandoned. But what happens to his Church is important. This legislation is to be deemed good or bad not in terms of ‘us’, but of building up the body of Christ. If it is not amended it simply spells more delay, more loss, more waste, less trust. Why are our liberal friends so slow to learn the lesson they have themselves taught the wider church, namely that without justice there is no peace? Peace is secured by those who use their strength justly. The simple message we must continue to press is that because the present proposals are unjust they will fail everyone. That’s why we must continue to find a better way forward.’
The new rules regarding the eating of meat on Fridays have been lampooned in some quarters, not least from time to time on the pages of this magazine. This is no bad thing: as Catholic Christians we should never be accused of taking ourselves too seriously. Rather we should be respected for following the teaching of the Church and of seeking to live our lives in accordance with those teachings. Abstaining from meat on a Friday, as Anglicans of the Prayer Book tradition have always been aware, is something that we in the Church of England have always been encouraged to do. Despite what many critics may argue these are not new rules, nor are they there to subjugate or intimidate.
They are there to encourage a deepening of the Christian spiritual life. They are a constant reminder that Friday is the day of the Our Lord’s Passion and we must never forget that. It is to be hoped that all Christians, whatever their denomination, seek to follow this new guidance on abstinence on Fridays for it is through acts such as these that we witness to our faith. We must also not forget that these acts can invigorate our prayer lives. As Anglicans we are often accused of not talking about prayer; we must continue to place prayer at the centre of our lives, taking time to pray in our churches, perhaps before the Blessed Sacrament, praying that all people would come to a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Prayer will help our churches to grow; prayer will ensure the conversion of England.