Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 30 January 2021

Laudable Practice “Maintenance of Thy True Religion”: is use of 1662 reactionary?

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News “It’s a Sin…Not to Care and Listen”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LLF and Systemic Homophobia in the Church of England

George Carey The Telegraph The Church’s unjust treatment of clergy has created a climate of fear
“I am far from alone in having fallen foul of a slow and secretive approach to disciplinary matters”

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Toby Forward
Toby Forward
7 months ago

To my mind, Carey’s lack of self-awareness, his denial of the truth and his consistent lack of penitence for his shortcomings, as revealed in this article and elsewhere, are more than enough justification for removing his PTO on a permanent basis.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

What truth is he denying here?

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

So, Toby, you don’t condemn injustice and poor practice in the Church’s procedures, then – the matters that George Carey is highlighting in this article, not just in relation to himself? Read, too, the letter by Andrew Graystone in this week’s Church Times (page 14), highlighting the “casuistry with which the National Safeguarding Team deals with complaints”, contrasting the way the NST dealt with the ‘information’ (based on two letters in 1983/84) that Lord Carey may have known 37 years ago about Smyth’s abuse when he (Carey) was Principal of Trinity College, Bristol (which he denies, a position supported by… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by David Lamming
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  David Lamming
7 months ago

In February 2018, at General Synod, Martin Sewell was told “the House of Bishops is accountable for safeguarding in the Church of England”. If so, why is the collective silence so deafening in that ‘purple circle’? Have they all lost their moral ability – and moral responsibility – to courageously speak out against these injustices?

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Froghole
Froghole
7 months ago

The BCP *is* reactionary. For example, there is the Good Friday collect: “O merciful God, who has made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord;… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

I don’t know whether the churching of women still takes place. I was present at one about 60 years ago, sitting silently at a respectful distance. The priest then was the same who had prepared me for Confirmation without any reference at all to the BCP Catechism. Does anyone follow that nowadays? I have the privilege of living in the parish where John Keble (arguably the real initiator of the Oxford movement), chose life as Vicar in a country parish while Newman and Pusey went on to far greater things. Somewhere I possess a Prayer Book which includes the service… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

Rowland, A young priest friend of mine was churched at her request after the birth of her child. It would seem the baggage of former generations is not always carried by the young.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
7 months ago

I should have asked the question “Does anyone follow that nowadays?” more clearly. I was referring to the BCP Catechism rather than the Churching of Women.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

Rowland, some of us have been trying for decades to convince the leadership of the C of E that we need a new authorised Catechism – an Outline of the Christian Faith as understood by the Church of England to put into the hands of regular churchgoers and enquirers and the basis for further catechetical material.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Perry Butler
7 months ago

Perhaps it has not happened because many of the leadership either do not know, in detail, what tthe doctrine of the church is, or even if they do feel disinclined to teach it.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  T Pott
7 months ago

In a letter to me in 1983 bishop John Austin Baker then the head of the Doctrine Commission said that although he was sympathetic 75% of the content would be acceptable to all concerned but about 25% would be deeply controversial.Yet is a church really a church if it can’t put into the hands of its members an outline of the beliefs their church holds.?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

Perhaps I should add that when I led “POT”2012-2015 in my group of 9 most didnt know what a catechism was.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Perry Butler
7 months ago

I preached on the BCP catechism on several occasions in Burton. With BCP open in front of them, we went through the lot. The most vicious comments came from a Bibliolatrist who was horrified (a) that “catholic(k)” appeared, and (b) that in law the BCP trumped the Bible. In the mid 60s my confirmation classes consisted of nothing but the BCP catechism.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
7 months ago

Interestingly, as I said, the BCP Catechism didn’t figure at all in my confirmation classes somewhere around 1954. But this was an AC parish. The assistant priest who took our classes taught us about transubstantiation. When I went home and discussed this with my older sister, she was horrified and produced the BCP to counter such heresy! I have never asked her, but assume that her confirmation classes were more ‘orthodox’ C of E. We were both confirmed by the same bishop, the redoubtable Henry Montgomery Campbell, who preached the same sermon at both services! I doubt that we would… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
7 months ago

Interesting Stanley. Interestingly both Wm Temple and Geoffrey Lampe prepared confirmation candidates using the Catechism. Many clergy in the 60s used the Revised Catechism. A New Revised Catechism was drawn up in the mid 80s but it was never authorised.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Perry Butler
7 months ago

It was Penrith, Perry. Cumberland low church. Remote. No decent rail service, no M6, roads over Shap and Stainmore often blocked. Essentially and historically part of Strathclyde in England. Nothing fancy like revised anythings. Ancient and Modern unrevised (dark blue covers). In those days men were men and sheep were nervous.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Perry Butler
7 months ago

Dr Butler: Many thanks for this. I attended a school in your current home town. Before the war and his obtaining a fellowship at Caius (and an MC) Lampe was a chaplain and housemaster at that school. Unfortunately, by the time I went there any reference to any catechism had been dropped from confirmation classes: indeed, I doubt if any of the candidates would have known what a catechism was (a later chaplain was alleged not to have heard of the LXX). The classes were essentially perfunctory and quite uninformative – surprisingly so in a school which had as its… Read more »

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

I am by no means old (though perhaps no longer young – having reached my forties!), but have used the catechism since I was in my curacy – and my curates have done the same (along with several other priests I know). It is not dead yet…

Charles Read
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

The bishop of Oxford is keen on us having a new revised catechism and has a group working on it.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Charles Read
7 months ago

I know +Oxon is keen as are a couple of other bishops, but I gathered plans no longer existed beyond developing the current Pilgrim Course. Do you have chapter and verse?

John Wall
John Wall
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
7 months ago

The service we are calling here the churching of women is really called The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth. Given the state of medical knowledge any time prior to the 20th century, a woman might well have wanted to share her joy at surviving childbirth with her church community. Someone who has studied the matter estimates that every time a woman got pregnant in this era she had a 20 to 25% chance of dying as a result of complications in pregnancy or delivery.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

I discovered as a curate with responsibility for a maternity hospital in the early 80s that churching was still “required”by travellers and circus folk.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 months ago

Wasn’t churching originally done on the church porch because of association with ritual impurity? There’s no longer (at least in the US) any reference to impurity in the rite of Thanksgiving after Childbirth. It’s a sweet service to give thanks for the birth of a child, or even the adoption of a child.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Richard
7 months ago

People are confusing the authorship of these posts! I didn’t raise the issue of purity. The only churching which I have witnessed was the priest standing and the woman kneeling at the Lady altar.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Richard
7 months ago

The explanation for the brevity of my previous post is that my iPad battery was about to expire, and did so before this follow-up! I agree that the TEC service which you describe sounds both beautiful and appropriate.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

Very remiss of me not to mention that today is the Feast day of Charles, King and Martyr.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

Good Evening Froghole I hope you are keeping safe and well! Yes! the reference to Jews Turks and infidels does not sit well with these times nor the approach of the church today which encourages dialogue with other faiths! In todays climate praying that kind of prayer from the BCP could technically be considered a hate crime. Even if the Prayer is kept in the phraseology and cadences of the BCP, it is urgently in need of liturgical revision or perhaps a new prayer be composed in BCP language more in keeping with these times that takes an inclusive approach?… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

Many thanks to Messrs Wateridge, Gillis and Jamal for your characteristically kind comments (and I hope that you, too, are all well)! As to Charles I, I did attend a service/ceremony in Whitehall a while back where a wreath was placed below the bust of the king at the entrance to the Banqueting House: http://skcm.org/about-skcm/events/ (a rather extraordinary society; I don’t know whether anything happened there today). This ceremony featured in Patrick Keiller’s 1994 work of cinéma vérité, ‘London’ (with Paul Schofield narrating): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zgHBACzfkI. I live not far from King Charles the Martyr in Tunbridge Wells, although he was not… Read more »

John Scrivener
John Scrivener
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

I remain a fan too! However I don’t entirely agree with your strictures about the ‘reactionary’ elements. The petition from the Litany doesn’t seem to me to be appealing for the ‘maintenance of class distinctions’ – it is asking that those who, in any case, have power should be granted wisdom, understanding etc. On the Good Friday collect, the 1928 book provided a graceful alternative, though I don’t think it is currently authorised (I have heard it used). With respect it is a misconception that the service of Churching is about ‘the purity of women’ – it is entirely a… Read more »

Geoff McLarney
Geoff McLarney
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

I have to admit that I had no idea the Third Good Friday Collect was still authorized in England. It was canonically removed from the 1959 Canadian BCP several years ago.

Kate
Kate
7 months ago

I don’t know how many people follow Scottish politics but this week Nicola Sturgeon released a video saying that transphobia within the SNP is “not acceptable”. It is worth watching the easily found video in full.   The video was produced, as Sturgeon explains within it, because a lot of *young* members left the SNP in protest at its inaction on transphobia, both in terms of policies and in terms of failing to discipline some senior members of the party for what they have been saying. The parallels with the Church of England should be obvious: if young people have… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

‘a significant part of the decline of the Church of England may be attributed to its regressive morality.’ (Kate) I’m not at all interested in speaking in favour of homophobia, but I think the situation is a lot more complicated than that. Significant decline began decades ago (in my high school in Essex in the 1970s I was one of a tiny minority of regular churchgoers). And if homophobia is so significant to young people, how is it that the majority of churchgoers under 30 seem to attend conservative evangelical churches? I think the issue is much more complicated, and… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

If young people absent themselves from most of our churches because of our institutional homophobia, then at least we could repent and welcome them back. But the reality is that most young people are completely indifferent to what the Church thinks and does – it doesn’t come close to getting on their radar. Now there’s an evangelistic challenge!

Michael
Michael
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

I will break my silence to agree with Allan Sheath. According to a report in today’s Sunday Times, the average of a Church of England worshipper is 61 – a bit older than me! That article begins The damage inflicted on the Church of England by the pandemic is revealed in a leaked internal document which warns up to 20 per cent of its regular worshippers may never return. It calls into question “the sustainability of many local churches” and the continued financial subsidy given to 5,000 loss-making parishes out of a total of 12,000. In my opinion it is… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Michael
7 months ago

Michael, are you willing to identify your diocese?

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Quite so. The rot set in with the invention of the printing press. That was a kick in the goolies for the power of the clergy. Imagine hoi polloi being able to make up their own minds. Shocking! The clergy have never really recovered. As far as homophobia is concerned, my pastoral experience is that nobody cares much. Yes, of course, it’s a matter of justice, but then so is the way the rich screw the poor – and not just the third world poor, but also along the street. I suggest that the relative silence of the overwhelmingly middle… Read more »

Jenny Humphreys
Jenny Humphreys
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Tim, I agree the situation is complicated, but there are reasons why some under-30s start to attend conservative evangelical churches – they are often in University towns with strong connections to CUs, and for young families they are the churches that probably have good facilities, both in terms of children’s and youth activities and toilets, heating, meeting rooms etc. However if any of the young women under 30 in these churches shows an interest in any kind of leadership, especially but not exclusively towards ordination, they will not be encouraged. There will often be nothing on the church’s website or… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

“…how is it that the majority of churchgoers under 30 seem to attend conservative evangelical churches?”

It is worth noting that “the majority of churchgoers under 30” is a pretty small number compared to the majority of ALL people under 30.


FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Pat O'Neill
7 months ago

It is probable that the people under 30 who attend conservative evangelical churches are themselves homophobic, which is why they feel at home having their prejudices confirmed. And being Churchgoers, they’re hardly representative of ‘normal’, broadminded young people.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

FrDavidH,I’m curious to know on what basis, looking out at the world we live in, you make the judgement that being broadminded is ‘normal’?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Young people tend to be more tolerant and accepting of others than preceding generations .They don’t have a problem with friends who are ‘different’ and believe that tolerance and being non-judgemental is “normal”. Sadly, some people inhabiting today’s world, think division, racism and homophobia are acceptable, to the detriment of others. Hence being broadminded is normal.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat O'Neill
7 months ago

Yes, Pat, that is true. However, I will also note that my brother attends an Assemblies of God church in Manchester and as a 60 year old he is in the minority. Most of the congregation are much younger than him.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Pat O'Neill
7 months ago

Ref the Evangelical under 30s question – It reminded me of the Grove “Done with Church” booklet mentioned in a posting a few weeks back, and which I read. I wonder whether it is an age/stage of life thing. In one’s late teens and early adult life one may want certainties and so an Evangelical set of answers may seem attractive (or you might not have the maturity to stand up against the answers that seems dodgy to you). And then in the second half of life such certainties may no longer work and people may need to find a… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Dawson
7 months ago

Simon, I think there may be some truth in that. I would note, however, that if certainties are the issue, we all appear to rely on them for some part of our belief system. For instance, I’m contentedly agnostic about issues like the apostolic succession and the real presence (as understood by anglo-catholics), but to many people here, they seem to be non-negotiables.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Pat O'Neill
7 months ago

Pat: “It is worth noting that “the majority of churchgoers under 30” is a pretty small number compared to the majority of ALL people under 30.” I think this is the crux. Yes, conservative churches may attract a small % of all the young people in England, but condemnation of gay sexuality repels far far more. In other words, yes, some children grow up in conservative churches because their parents go there and hold conservative views. They are likely to inherit the disapproval of gay sexuality. But for all the good that comes from this really rather tiny % of… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Pat O'Neill
7 months ago

Mecifully not everywhere. In 2009 I attended the 7pm weekly Youth Mass in Cuenca cathedral in Ecuador. It was the size of Southwark Cathedral and was packed to capacity. I was told this was normal. Alas the C of E is experiencing a corporate Dark Night of the Soul.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Perry Butler
7 months ago

Dark night – I agree. But ‘alas’? A Dark Night means God is deeply at work in the church.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

David….lets hope.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

God moves in mysterious ways. Who would have thought that people staying away from Church in their millions is God at work? What on earth is He trying to say?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

The key question Fr David. The measure of the church’s faithfulness, life and witness is never its popularity. The issue is not what society thinks of the church – but what Christ does. Drawing on the writings of St John of the Cross, among others, patristic theologian and evangelist Elaine Heath writes of our present context this way: ‘A dark night is descending on the church … a divinely initiated process of loss so that the accretions of the world, the flesh and the devil may be recognised and released … a process of purgation and de-selfing … it holds… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

David, that’s an amazing quote!

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

I agree. An amazing suggestion from Elaine Heath. Reform and Renewal, LLF discussions and other pointless programmes should be halted immediately!

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

er … no. Not exactly FrDavid H. Rather it gives a vital perspective and priority to what we are seeking to work out – and which I fully support, for what it is worth.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

I understand what you are saying. Your viewpoint regarding the Church’s decline probably differs from how a sociologist of religion would interpret it. Decline is failure. A theologian, however, can have it both ways. A religious revival is God at work. Apathy towards the Christian faith is God at work. Both are a win win!

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

‘Apathy towards the Christian faith is God at work’. That I have not said. Nor would I. But a faith that finds in human sin a ‘happy fault’ will surely have some grasp of divine paradox.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

I agree there.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

David, I agree with Tim Chesterton. It is commentators occasionally dropping gems like that which makes TA special. Thank you.

Last edited 7 months ago by Kate
Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  David Runcorn
7 months ago

Beautiful quote – the doctrine of indefectibility rescued from the dry pages of theological tomes. God may let his Church dwell in arid wastelands at times, but God will not ultimately allow his Church to fail. Also echoes of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “Christianity now is having to learn the Jewish lesson about being a minority that enriches and harmonises, modestly.” At a time when our culture is largely indifferent to the Church, a temptation is for churches to withdraw into closed communities. But a Church that is faithful to Christ will, after St Augustine, take the long view that retains… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Allan Sheath
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