The July editorial was out of date the day after it went to press – victim, in good company, of a phenomenon that Private Eye dubbed “Crystalballs”. To be fair to our sources at Westminster, no one could really have predicted the ability of most of the Conservative leadership candidates to scupper their own campaigns so spectacularly in so short a space of time; nor for the impending disintegration of the parliamentary Labour party to take quite so long. Fr William Davage presents his own summer summary in these pages for the benefit of anyone needing to remind themselves of the process by which the quietly devout Mrs May triumphed. It’s fair to say that there can’t be many other world leaders who would choose the Tantum Ergo on Desert Island Discs.
The Chairman of the Catholic Group writes in this edition with his thoughts on the latest meeting of the General Synod; and Fr Gary Waddington discreetly lifts the lid on the Shared Conversations that took up the second half of the meeting. There is no easy way for the Synod to talk about sex; nor, to name the elephant in the room, about same-sex relationships, without accusations being bandied about of the CofE’s capitulation to the prevailing secular culture – again. In a perfect world and in a perfect Church it would all be so much simpler; but such luxuries are not ours – at least not yet. What the Synod must do is try to tread the line between Catholic order and pastoral sensitivity, and remember that one person’s compromise is another’s betrayal. All parties must tread kindly; but to be able to do so without hypocrisy may yet be the greatest challenge of all.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Church in Wales is in serious trouble. During Dr Morgan’s primacy the Governing Body has continued to introduce innovations that depart from Catholic faith and order; but none has reversed the ongoing decline in church attendance: at this rate in twenty years’ time the CiW will have women bishops and same-sex marriage, and enough worshippers to fill one moderately-sized church in each diocese. The Archbishop retires next year, and so does the Bishop of St Davids; and there is still no alternative episcopal oversight in Wales. We commend the Chairman of Credo Cymru’s message in this month’s magazine, and join with him in asking prayers for the forthcoming conference, “That Nothing Be Lost”, on 21 and 22 September. Let us hope that the title recalls the Welsh bishops to their duty to see to the flourishing of all their people.
Fr Jacques Hamel’s murder is discussed more thoroughly elsewhere in these pages; but the way in which some news outlets reported the story made it sound as though the idea that a priest might be vulnerable to attack was something new. As any priest knows – or at least as any priest should know – to live in persona Christi is to live dangerously, both spiritually and physically;
and August 13 marked the twentieth anniversary of the murder of Fr Christopher Gray (ND, October 1996). In response to Fr Hamel’s death the French bishops declared a day of fasting; and at the Assumption – the mid-summer fête national that catches Low-Church visitors unawares – all masses across the country were offered for the needs of la belle France. As for the various linguistic acrobatics being performed in certain circles in relation to religiously inspired terrorism – is it not time to call a spade a spade?
Meanwhile, on this side of the Channel, Pokémon GO was in full swing. People combed the highways and byways to capture anime characters on the screens of their iPhones and other devices. They even came into churches in search of the elusive creatures: things that weren’t real, but which could be seen. Obviously this the exact opposite of one of the more traditional functions of churches as places where people may find things that are real, but which can’t be seen; but that didn’t stop the CofE Communications Office from leaping into action. It managed to release advice for parish clergy which actually included the instruction that “Our first priority [yes, first priority] as a church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokémon GO.” It also encouraged churches to host “Poképarties”. Not a euphemism, apparently.