Comments: Bishop of London issues pastoral letter to clergy

I sympathize w/ the Bishop of London, but hasn't he contributed to the confusion here? When one say things like "the Pope ... is undeniably the Patriarch of the West", one should know one is empowering those who would follow the bishop of ROME's lead, not his own.

FWIW, Bishop Chartres, *I* do not have a "Patriarch": West, East, North or South. That's why I'm an *Anglican/Episcopalian*, not a Roman or Constantinopolitan!

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 8:20pm GMT

Just out of interest, what standing do these pastoral letters have? Are they personal musings or veiled instructions?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 8:35pm GMT

Geoffrey Fisher lives! Winnington-Ingram is buried once and for all. But will anyone take a blind bit of notice on the ground? Doubt it.

Posted by fr dougal at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 10:40pm GMT

My first thought is that this clear guidance from the Bishop of London is much needed and long overdue. It has always been a sign of trouble in the United States when a parish began to use exclusively non-standard liturgies.

Also --

We have two pieces of news here in the American Southland that might be of interest.

1) A new bishop in the Diocese of Central Florida, the Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, rector of Calvary-St. George’s Church in New York City, elected today.

2) Some mysterious goings-on in the Diocese of South Carolina involving quitclaim deeds mailed to every parish in the diocese.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 10:54pm GMT

This is extraordinary stuff, not least when seen in tandem with Truro's & Birmingham's responses to the Covenant. It's like a new Reformation! Remaining Romanists being formally told to observe C of E liturgical norms - maybe for the first time in decades; and mainstream C of E members refuting a move away from Anglican Provincial and diocesan autonomy in all things legal. Three cheers for +Richard Chartres, a Catholic Anglican; and hopes for many more thumbs down to the Covenant.

Posted by Peter Edwards at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 11:11pm GMT

Bishop Chartres is correct in supposing that some Anglican Church communities (usually evangelical conservatives)do not seem yet to have understood the fact the the Word of God is no longer solely contained in the books of the Bible."The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us" (Gospel of John).

Whereas readings from the Bible are read at every celebration of The Eucharist, this is done in the context of the 'Word-made-flesh' in Jesus Christ.
Not only minds, but bodies also are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the dominical Sacrament, ordained by Jesus to empower ministry in, to, and by, the Body of Christ, the Church.

Sadly, there are those in the Church who seem to reverence the Words in the Book, more than they do the Word-made-flesh in Christ. The Bible is teaching 'about' Christ. The Eucharist IS Christ.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 12:01am GMT

This is an excellent letter and demonstrates the triumph of the Oxford Movement in turning the Church of England and the Anglican Communion into a eucharistic body.

As a former Anglo-Catholic, now for many years a Roman Catholic, I am interested in the Bishop of London's references to the use of the revised Roman Rite in some Anglo-Catholic parishes and to the Ordinariate, of which I am not, and have no intention of being, a member. The creation of the Ordinariate has effectively nullified the use of the Roman Rite in Anglican churches and the Anglo-Catholic rhetoric on corporate reunion. I have noticed that some Anglo-Catholic parishes have adopted the revised missal but in obedience to what authority? The creation of the Ordinariate nullifies an appeal to Western authority as a means to 'catholicise the Church of England from within'. For those outside the Church, papal authority has no binding force, as some Anglo-Catholics once believed.

The continuation of extreme Anglo-Catholic parishes simply reinforces their character as being part of a self-authenticating tradition sui generis, nothing more, nothing less. Their appeal to Roman authority is now anachronistic but, for a generation or so, they will probably continue on a theatrical, atavistic basis devoid of ecclesiological integrity.

Posted by John Bowles at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 10:33am GMT

When I first read the deed between the Lord Bishop of London and his suffragans establishing the "London Plan" for episcopal oversight, I was astounded to read in it a declaration of +Richard that he was unwilling to ordain any candidates for holy orders (whether male or female). A bishop unwilling to perform one of the primary duties for which he was consecrated? Then, of course came the inexplicable delay in the appointment of a suffragan for Fulham with alternative episcopal oversight being exercised by the Bishop of Edmonton "for the time being". Now the latest call for liturgical orthodoxy.

+Richard has seen the writing on the wall from the diocesan votes. CofE priestesses are here to stay and Lady Bishops are coming, so climb on the bandwaggon.

+Richard has always been a place seeker and he sees the path to further preferment. It's a fair bet that +Richard is holding Fulham vacant for the first female suffragan.

No surprise therefore to find the approving reference in the pastoral letter to +Thomas Cramner who transformed the Church in England into the Church of England.

+Richard thinks now is the time to rid himself of those troublesome priests. This is the 21st Century and it won't be necessary to have anyone hung, drawn and quartered. Canterbury is worth a few masses.

Posted by Mourad at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 11:03am GMT

Mourad - the Church of England does not have priestesses, but does have priests. The history of the word "priestesses" in this context means it is likely to be taken as an offensive word, or as an insult by a number of the people who read your comment - which is perhaps not the response you would intend. We do have deaconesses, but women can also be deacons. Using the right word will aid communication and avoid unintended offence.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 3:22pm GMT

The Pope dropped "Patriarch of the West" from his titles in 2006.

Posted by Richard at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 4:58pm GMT

This is a clear, charitable and much-needed restatement of the truths of the Reformed Catholic Church of England. It gives due honour to the Pope as head of the Roman Church, but makes no undue concessions in that direction. The appeal for unity within the generous latitude of the Church of England must be heeded not only in the Diocese of London, but throughout the C of E.
Bishop Richard does ordain to Holy Orders, but for the sake of unity he ordains only deacons, male and female, but not priests.

Posted by Kenneth Stern at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 5:07pm GMT

Hallelujah! This is a magisterial statement addressing long-standing problems at both ends of the churchmanship spectrum. I hope and pray that it may be widely respected and complied with in London, and adopted as a model elsewhere.
Is it really the case that only 3 priests from London have joined the Ordinariate? was one of these 3 the former and unlamented +Fulham?

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 5:31pm GMT

Father Ray Blake in Brighton also thought London's episcopal call to order would not go down well with those clergy claiming to be "Catholics within the CofE" and he recounted this anecdote:-

"The great Peter Amigo, Archbishop of Southwark for the first half of the 20th Century met a High Anglican on a street who said, "I am an Anglican but I consider myself a validly ordained Catholic priest and I accept you as my real and legitimate bishop". The Bishop replied, "In that case I suspend you. Good day!"

Posted by Mourad at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 7:27pm GMT

Whether the revised missal or the previous ones, Anglican ministers should desist from using our liturgy.

If he was really magisterial,Bishop Chartres should sort out the eucharistic practices of his evangelicals who throw away the bread and wine after Holy communion.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Monday, 21 November 2011 at 6:53am GMT

It is indeed pastoral unkindness and a matter of canonical disobedience when the Roman rite is used in a C of E context, or liturgy is more or less abandoned altogether as is apparently the case in some evangelical parishes ( I suspect this is becoming more widespread than the use of the Roman rite to be honest)
But then as the Principal of Wycliffe Hall,one of the C of E's foremost theological colleges, has recently told Virtue on Line, evangelicals apparently have a problem with the theology of bishops, have no confidence in the present bench and are happy that the constitutional set up of the C of E enables evangelical parishes to operate in their own way with little outside interference....Anglo-Catholics have tended to have a high view of episcopacy but a propensity to disobedience to their wishes, but that wont matter soon as the Revd Dr Richard Turnbull believes A-Cism in the C of E is finished. An instructive interview..I recommend it. I wonder what Bishops and Diocesan Directors of Ordinands make of it....

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 21 November 2011 at 5:28pm GMT

It's about as magisterial as it gets within the C of E, I think, although clearly things are different across the Tiber. The whole tone of +London's letter suggests that he would count it a great step forward if his evangelicals could be persuaded to celebrate the Eucharist regularly and with due prominence. Giving due respect to the consecrated elements might have to be the next step for them.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Monday, 21 November 2011 at 5:35pm GMT

"...the eucharistic practices of his evangelicals who throw away the bread and wine after Holy communion." RIW

I don't know that such a practice is particularly evangelical, or even necessarily reprehensible. Despite my Anglo-Catholic upbringing, I see no problem with pouring consecrated wine onto the flower bed, or crumbling up hosts to give them to the birds.

A much greater offense, and a typically evangelical one, is pouring unused wine back into the bottle!

Posted by Edward Prebble at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 12:15am GMT

Despite Edward being my up-brought A.C. colleague, I do not agree with him about 'throwing (or pouring) away' the consecrated Elements of the Eucharist. If Christ is truly present in these Elements, they should either be consumed immediately or reserved for future use. I am a Consubstantialist, but a devout one. Agape.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 9:22am GMT

We may be getting OT here, but I can see it both ways re the post-Eucharist Sacrament. Reserve OR feed to the birds (also beloved of God!) . . . as long as it's done devoutly. "Mindfulness", as the Buddhists would say. God comes to Feed the World, and all who hunger (every kind of hunger) in it. TBTG!

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 9:17pm GMT

Whilst I personally think that the Eucharist should be the main Sunday service, I think this has come about as a result of the Parish Communion Movement rather than being a "triumph" of the Oxford Movement..... and not without losses. I feel sure the Oxford Movement Fathers would have been pretty distressed by the relatively casual and unprepared way many communicants now approach the altar week by week.
In the English context it has also dis-enfranchised many "believing but unsacramental people" whose religious needs were assisted by services of the Word (like Evensong where there was often a decent sermon and not a sermonette).Even in my Tractarian parish in the early 60's where there was an 8'oclock and an 11am Sung Eucharist, the best attended service ( 100+) was Evensong....and didnt +Michael Ramsay ( until Rowan our most Catholic ABp) lament the trend towards "Holy Communion with everything".....Mayor's Sunday;, Remembrance Sunday and other civic services even Inductions where lots of non-church going people from the community are often invited ...When I was a DDO I used to tell ordinands thet the C of E existed to build up committed Christians but also to keep a broad swathe of the relatively uncommitted but nonethess sympathetic, in touch with the Christian religion....and surely our liturgical life should try to embody that.After all,what percentage of the baptized are actually confirmed? 20%? I dont have the figures but I expect it is something like that.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 9:49am GMT

The timing of the Bishop's letter might itself be characterised as something of a 'pastoral unkindness' to those parishes which use the Roman rite. The letter implies that the decision to adopt the new translation was something which the clergy were imposing upon the laity. I am one of the churchwardens in my parish, and the decision whether to use the new translation was something which our PCC discussed, prayerfully and in good time, early in the Autumn.

Irrespective of the merits of the positions, and I accept there are strong arguments against the Roman rite being used within the Church of England, parishes such as mine have been using the Roman rite for four decades. The Bishop must have been aware that there are many London parishes in that position. In that context, sending that ad clerum in late November - a little more than a weeek after the start of Advent - was not very helpful.

Posted by Toby at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 10:12am GMT


I'm finding it difficult to summon up any sympathy for you in response to your post. It strikes me as a disgrace that you deprive the parish of the rites of the Church of England. Your role is to promote its ministrations not to undermine them, surely? What your PCC spent its time considering prayerfully was not its business in the first place. Or have I been missing something? Is disobedience for four decades better or worse than recent disobedience? Have you written to the bishop of London to seek a chance to make your case to him?

Posted by Lister Tonge at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 5:03pm GMT

Does Advent begin early in the Roman Rite?

Posted by Richard at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 8:46pm GMT

"parishes such as mine have been using the Roman rite for four decades. The Bishop must have been aware that there are many London parishes in that position"

Good googly-moogly, and yet Rowan wants to dictate to TEC how (via the Covenant) to be ****Anglican****??? O_o

I swear, the more I learn about the CofE, the less I understand it...

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 9:17pm GMT

"What percentage of the baptized are actually confirmed? 20%? I dont have the figures but I expect it is something like that.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 23 November

I don't know what's happening about Confirmation in England, Perry. I do know that here in ACANZP, the Sacrament of Holy Communion is offered the the Baptized - whether Confirmed by a Bishop or not!

In the new understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism - at least here in N.Z. - the baptized are 'full members of the Body of Christ' and, as such, are encouraged to receive Holy Communion as soon and as often as possible. Granted that seems to have rendered the need for Confirmation by the Bishop to be less pressing. But with the new accent on Holy Baptism as the defining mark of a Christian, the ancillary sacrament of confirmation seems to have been put on the back-burner.

Is that altogether a bad thing, do you think? Or does the Holy Spirit not fully act within the context of Holy Baptism?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 10:32pm GMT

I found Toby's post most interesting and, as a member of a parish which has been using the current Roman Rite, I would be interested to know what were the reasons which persuaded his PCC to vote for using the new Roman rite. I can see (as can Toby) many reasons for not using it, but none for doing so. There were reasons historically, but +London's letter explains very well why they are no longer valid. It seems to me that one could only attempt to justify a blatant breach of canon law if there were some very pressing theological or liturgical reason for doing so. Just saying that 'it's our tradition' or 'we've always used the Roman rite' simply doesn't stand up.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 24 November 2011 at 11:26am GMT

Use of the old - or existing - Roman Rite has been a matter of appreciating it's fundamental 'catholic' theological stance - on the important understanding of Christ being Present in the Sacrament. However, to move in synchrony with 'Roman' Catholic changes, for the sake of emulating Rome, signifies a wish to identify absolutely with R.C. liturgical revision. - Not a wise move for Anglicans who value their own adapted, catholic, liturgical tradition.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 25 November 2011 at 2:13am GMT

Yes, in answer to Malcolm's point, the primary reason is one of theology rather than ecclesiology. This is that the eucharistic theology in Common Worship is not sufficiently unambiguous. (And I know people have said that if we want to use the Roman rite we should go off to Rome, but it is possible to accept the Roman Catholic teaching on the mass without signing up to every dot and dash of the catechism.)

Fr Ron, I think if parishes are going to use the Roman rite it is better to use the current one. It would make the position even more anomalous if one were to use an out-of-date translation.

In answer to Lister Tonge's question, the clergy in our and two neighbouring parishes are (I think very admirably - it would have been easier but less honourable not to do so) writing to the Bishop of London setting out our position.

And finally, Richard, I meant 'before' not 'after'. (We are not an Ambrosian rite parish. I think that would be altogether impossible to justify!)

Posted by Toby at Friday, 25 November 2011 at 5:58pm GMT

Thank you Toby for answering my question. I understand and respect your position but, for me, the very ambiguity which you find unacceptable has been what has kept the C of E mostly together for centuries, ever since the 'Elizabethan Settlement' and the famous Elizabethan verse which +London quoted in his letter.
If the words allow me to believe what I believe, then that is enough for me. That the same words may be taken by someone else to allow what they differently believe, may be regrettable and less than the ideal, but it is still far better than schism, in my view.
I hope and pray that your parish may reach an agreement with your Bishop, and remain Anglican.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 26 November 2011 at 6:58pm GMT
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