From the Revd Roger Bellamy

Andrew Hawes reminds us of the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer next year and many of the points he makes are valid. But the language of the BCP is not the language which we actually speak and comes across as archaic. That doesn’t help the mission of the Church. Also, the world which it describes, and especially in its intercessory prayers, is not the world we live in. That was a world in which state and church were almost the same, and the king was the source of all authority. This again is no help to mission for it suggests a Church living in a distant past.

All the points Andrew makes are true of Common Worship: it provides for unity, penitence, intercession, praise and the centrality of both Scripture and Eucharist. And it is of today, and that is vital for the work of mission and evangelism.

Fr Roger Bellamy

From Mrs Mary Hopson

I was profoundly shocked by Anthony Saville’s article ‘Where we went wrong’ in the current issue of your magazine [ND Oct]. Mr Saville has a right to his opinion about ‘gay’ clergy but he has no right to assume that Anglo-Catholics en masse share it. Some do, doubtless, but many don’t – and the least he should now do is acknowledge as much: in print. I have always thought of New Directions as a well got-up, well-written, fair publication, but I’m now beginning to wonder whether I shall be able to hold to that view for much longer.

Mary Hopson

Tregate Castle, Monmouth

From Mr Mark Stevens

Reading the Constitution of the Mission Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda I became uneasily aware of the absence from it of any explicit mention of the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. Was this, I wondered, an accidental omission (though obviously a serious one!); or was it deliberate (in which case those who drafted the Constitution surely owe the members of the Society some sort of explanation)? Why Hamlet without the Prince?

Mark Stevens

(name and address supplied)

From the Archdeacon for the Army

Major Patrick King writes in jest [ND Letters, Oct], but I must inform him and your readers that the wearing of vestments is most certainly not forbidden in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. Neither is it unusual to encounter chaplains who represent the Catholic Anglican tradition.

Eighty Anglican priests serve as full-time chaplains in the Army, and they reflect the full breadth of devotion and practice. Indeed, we rejoice in our comprehensiveness and collegiality, and this includes the richness of the sacramental life as lived and taught and expounded in our units and garrisons in the United Kingdom and overseas and in the remote patrol bases in southern Afghanistan.

The Ven PA Eagles CF

From Mr Lance Haward

The ‘reality’ (or otherwise) of the present debate [ND Oct] is far more nakedly apparent than simply in the fact, as Tony Delves suggests, that the traditionalists’ position has been either misconstrued or unheard, a position far too often rehearsed to yield any novel insights.

A different outcome had it been more fully explained? I rather doubt it. It is to be supposed that some at least of those who approve of the consecration of women but have none the less voted against the draft legislation, in the hope of inducing the Bishops to bring forward some more favourable provision for opponents, if asked to vote in General Synod on that Measure un-amended will baulk at continuing to oppose it at that point

of greater gravity.

Nevertheless, the figures of the voting in Deaneries and Dioceses must remain some sort of pointer to the improbability of its receiving two-thirds assent in all three houses – and improbability a fortiori, in the event of the voters being presented with something more concessionary. Now that the crucial debate has been completed in London, the actuality of it is perhaps even more revealing than Tony Delves’ trawl of the diocesan web sites at large, as to the questionable rationality, and even at moments questionable propriety, which have proliferated in the process leading up to General Synod’s debate next year. In the meantime, some distinctly curious arguments have been brought to bear in both Deanery and Diocese, such as that it is always open to anyone disenchanted with women priests to move to a more friendly parish, an option not practically speaking available as regards diocesan arrangements; or an obscure lesson about female capacity, to be drawn from the Judgement of Solomon. And after all, this sop to the democratic instinct supposedly embedded in Anglican, as opposed for example to Roman, ecclesiastical governance, may well be little better than a cosmetic exercise in any case. As a speaker in the Diocesan Synod said on moving closure, it was doubtful whether any further speeches would have the effect of changing anyone’s mind or intended vote.

This is the reality of ‘debate’ on a subject so contentious. Such indecision as there may have been at the point of embarkation, many months down the line can reasonably be supposed to have evaporated long since.

Lance Haward Ll.B

27 Lansdowne Road, London

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