As it says on the cover of this edition of New Directions we have 200 days to go until the vote on the legislation to allow women to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England takes place. That is 200 days to find a solution, 200 days for the legislation to be amended and 200 days for us to continue to work to secure our future. Time is of the essence. We must continue to work in any way that we can to support the work of the Catholic Group in Synod, not least through our prayers for them as they face up to what will be difficult meetings in February and July next year. We must continue to strive to find a way forward. One such way forward is the Mission Society of St Wilfrid and
St Hilda. If you haven’t already joined the Society then it is never too late; sign up and show your support for this important Society that will seek to be an umbrella for Catholics within the Church of England. As well as joining as an individual you will want to ask your priest and PCC to consider affiliating your parish with the Society, sending a clear message that you see that the Society is the way forward.
The Society on its own will not be enough. What we need more than anything is sacramental assurance: that we can be sure that the sacraments we receive are given by priests and bishops who have been ordained in the apostolic succession. Without this assurance the Society cannot hope to flourish. The bishops of the Society also need to be given jurisdiction over those in their care, so that we can know the bishop to whom we relate. The structure of the Church of England is full of anomalies and quirks; bishops do not have jurisdiction over all that falls within their geographical diocese; they do not for example have jurisdiction over Royal Peculiars. Why then can this small concession not be given to those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women?
So as the New Year approaches we need to rededicate ourselves to our cause and not just to that cause but most importantly to the spread of the Gospel. The Society is called the ‘Mission Society’. Despite the fact that we are in worrying and difficult times, let us as a movement get out into our parishes, as we have always done, and work for the conversion of England. Let us show that at the heart of our Catholic life is mission and evangelism.
Readers of New Directions will e differing views on the Bishop recent Ad Clerum on Eucharistic practice in his Diocese and we hope that they will see fit to write to ND to share these views so that a proper and open debate can take place. As a movement we have always used a wide range of liturgical texts and many Anglicans who are widely admired, such as Dom Gregory Dix, were deeply devoted to the use of the Roman Rite.
Those Anglicans who use the Roman Rite do not do so because they are trying to be difficult but out of a desire for unity. They continue to try to call the Church of England back to her Catholic identity and to work for full unity between our Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This may well be derided as a pipe-dream, it may now be impossible, but for some the call for them now is to continue to proclaim that they believe the Church of England to be a Catholic Church and to work for full and lasting unity with the rock from which we were hewn. Equally there have always been those Anglo-Catholics who use the Prayer Book or Common Worship, those who add to it, those who remove things from it. That is, perhaps, part of the richness of Anglican liturgy and has certainly been part of the Anglo-Catholic Movement since its inception. It does not make anyone any more or less a devoted and true member of the Church of England; those who use the Roman Rite are no less involved in Deanery Synods, in mission work, in cooperation with neighbouring parishes than those devoted to the use of Common Worship.
The Bishop of London accuses those who use the Roman Rite of causing ‘disunity’ in the Church of England. Readers of this magazine, whatever view they take on this question, will want to call on all of the Bishops of the Church of England and especially those who sit on General Synod to vote for adequate provision for AngloCatholics and Evangelicals so that they can continue to flourish in the Church of England. Not to do so would be to cause a greater and more painful disunity.