Saturday, 17 April 2010

opinion in mid-April

Now available to non-subscribers is Hugh Rayment-Pickard in the Church Times with Time the C of E stopped dodging. He argues that too many opt-outs have undermined the Church’s mission.

Alan Wilson writes in Bishop Alan’s Blog about How many people go to Church.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times: Beware the forces of Palinisation.

Mary-Jane Rubenstein at Killing the Buddha writes in Notes from the Tangled Anglican Web about “What the schism over sexuality has to do with the colonial legacy in Africa”.

Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek about A Traditionalist Who Shakes Tradition. Nobody seems to care that the new Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles is a lesbian. Don’t blame distraction by the Catholics.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred mysteries column in the Telegraph: Four seasons and a funeral. A remarkable film has been made about the nuns of the Carmelite monastery in Notting Hill, he says.

Steven Hepburn writes a Comment is free column in The Guardian: From Cif to the cloister. He says “In making my decision to become a monk, I’ve tried to answer the question many of you will now put: what good will it do?”

Roderick Strange has a Credo column in the Times: The idea of celibacy is still possible, it just takes maturity. Celibacy seems bewildering in our highly sexualised society. It becomes all too easy to explain abuse by blaming celibacy. But we need to be wary.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 10:40am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Ms. Rubenstein's article was excellent. Truly fine journalism. Informative and thought-provoking.
Regardless of whether it's anti-gay evangelicals, corporate interests, or political interests, we are still colonializing Africa.
On the gay issue, I have to wonder whether part of the reaction is stemming from "You destroyed our former spiritualisms and religions, you re-molded us in your Christian image. You re-inforced it for decades. NOW you're telling us you've changed?!"
If the only way African Anglicanism can compete with Islam is to be more homophobic than it is, something is wrong. If you imitate the "other" to beat it, how are you different?

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 9:37pm BST

Fr. Rod Strange, in his Times 'Credo' article, makes a great deal of sense - in his description of what it means to be a Religious in the Roman Catholic Church - when he is speaking of the place of the Vow of Celibacy.

In the gospel of Matthew, 19:1012, Jesus speaks of 3 different types of eunuch. As a Monk or Nun, this status falls into the category of the eunuch who makes himself a eunuch 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven - the same category as Jesus himself. In his own Church (R.C.) every priest is also required by canon law to be a eunuch.

In the Anglican Church, it is only those officially entitled 'Religious' - monks and nuns - who make a Vow of Celibacy. However, the clergy do not come under this restriction - even 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven'. The fact that some clergy remain celibate is their own choice.

It is in this environment that clergy who may be 'eunuchs from their mother's womb' (homosexual?) might claim the same privilege as their fellow heterosexual colleagues by being allowed to commit themselves to a monogamous same-sex relationship. After all, their heterosexual colleagues - unlike R.C. clergy - are not bound to a celibate life-style. The question might then be asked: Why should a naturally homosexual person (eunuch from birth - unable to procreate) be denied the expression of his/her own sexual response to a loving same-sex partner?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 12:49am BST

I find it very interesting to set Mr Hepburn and Fr Strange's pieces in comparison: they each have much to commend them.

I pray Mr Hepburn find the True Answer to his calling, as he enters the Carthusian monastery [Question: is this the house that Thomas Merton wanted to enter, but was prevented by being on the wrong side of The Pond during the War?]. I find little to disagree with which to disagree w/ him . . . only find his phrasing

"Contrary to the stock charges of critics since the Protestant "Reformation" the Catholic church has never held to the notion that anything worthwhile can be achieved apart from God's grace."

to be needlessly tendentious (Scare quotes around "Reformation"? Really?)

I also value Fr Strange's defense of celibacy and, for the MOST part, AGREE . . . *in the sense* that is is still a valid calling for (Tautology Alert!) those who are CALLED to it. And certainly, NOT every calling to the priesthood has that simultaneous calling to celibacy! (East OR West!)

There's one phrase by Fr Strange I find . . . somewhat problematic.

"Many people today may doubt whether that ideal is possible. They take it for granted that loving friendship can be fulfilled only by physical, genital expression. It is not so. Just as people can have sex without making love, so they can be loving and sexual without being genital."

It's not that I disagree, exactly. However, seeing the word "genital", used as an adjective, feels peculiarly *compartmentalizing*, and (self-)divisive. As if we make a risk of FETISHING the genitals, by dividing relationships into "genital and non-genital. [Furthermore, in terms of the Current Scandal, certainly there were incidents of sexual abuse by priests, without involving the touch of EITHER their own or their victims' genitals]

It is this context of the RC priest pedophile scandal, that has put *me* in the (disorienting) situation, of having to defend the celibacy of my *Episcopal* spiritual director (a Benedictine monk). In him, I see one who has BALANCED a true calling to celibacy, w/o removing him to a state-of-mind where ALL sexuality is disparaged (as I believe Rome has cultivated---while simultaneously worshipping human fertility! O_o)

Just my thoughts.

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 4:13am BST

I wonder if Giles Fraser intended to bring Patrick Devlin to mind with his talk of the "man and woman on the Clapham omnibus." It seems like a subtle dig at George Carey, but it could also be directed at TEC, I suppose... Odd. Who is the core base now?

Posted by: Sarah on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 2:10am BST
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