Now that the dust has settled after the vote in General Synod to allow women to be ordained to the episcopate, the time has come for us as a constituency to regroup and refocus on our future. We have fought well the long battle through the Synod and there may be battles to come but we must now all the more focus on the life of the church and in working for growth. We are grateful to the Catholic Group in Synod for their work in the defense of the faith. It has been a long drawn out process and we hope that they like we will be able to get on with the work of the mission of the Church. Their work is far from over as they will have to defend the legislation and stand firm against other attempts to move the Church of England away from the Christian truth in areas such as the sanctity of human life.
We must put behind us the Synodical battles and look firmly to the future, taking what has been given to us in the legislation and working to create our future. It is imperative that we take all of the opportunities that the legislation allows us and that we seek to flourish as The Society within the Church of England. In the coming months we will need to work together to ensure that these structures work and succeed in ensuring our sacramental life. Perhaps most importantly we must continue to focus on the work and mission of the church. It is to be hoped that our bishops will create groups and structures to advise them on matters concerning the church. As you will see elsewhere in this magazine the system of diocesan representatives is up and running, and this is a good start in ensuring we are even better organized than we have been before.
One area of particular importance is theological study. We need to gather together those who wish to work in theology to advise our bishops on issues of concern. It is vital that we continue to produce theological writing and contribute to debates. It is also important that as a constituency we continue to encourage study and learning among our clergy and laity. This will also include work with ordinands and those who are considering ordination but it should also include those who have been ordained for some time.
It will be no good to put off any of this work for say ten years, if we do then we will lose any right we have to claim a place in the Church of England. If we lose our place at the table we will only have ourselves to blame. It is of the greatest importance that we continue to play as full a part as possible in the Catholic life of the Church of England. This means that we need all the more to support each other and our parishes as well as the Catholic Societies and institutions of the Church of England. Last month young people from around the country gathered for the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage, there they were nourished by the sacraments and taught the faith. As traditional Catholics we need to ensure we support this and other events. We will only have ourselves to blame if in time we are unable to attend them because we cannot be guaranteed sacramental assurance. Without young people in our churches and without mission we will have no future.
As Catholic Christians we are called to be engaged in all areas of the life of our parish and our nation. We must return to our roots as champions of those most in need and of social justice. We must also be the voice for those who have no voice, such as the unborn. As the Church of England drifts away from the Catholic faith we must continue to recall her to her inheritance and what that actually means. The Catholic faith is not, as some Affirming Catholics would have you believe, about what you wear and what you do but rather about what you believe and being true and faithful to the faith of the Apostles. Indeed, we must remind the church that it is we who continue to affirm the Catholic faith and the right to life. What we don’t affirm is every theological whim and fancy. So, now is the time for us to be firm in our convictions, rightly proud of what we have achieved over the years, but not complacent. We must act now to build a future for our children and grandchildren that allows us to flourish and to grow in the Church of England. The bishops have offered us a chance and we must grab it with both hands and simply not fail. As my school headmaster used to say, ‘you have entered the greatest race of your life, a race you cannot afford to lose’. ND