Wednesday, 9 July 2008

This blog is on holiday

Due to my beginning my holiday, this blog is taking a break.

Due to the current crisis(es?), I will for the time being continue my personal Ugley Vicar blog.

John Richardson
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Monday, 7 July 2008

Diocese of Chelmsford 'didn't warn Boris over deputy'

The Ray Lewis scandal took a new twist today when the Church of England admitted it was wrong to claim Boris Johnson was warned in person over his disgraced former deputy.

It prompted senior Tories to brand the Church "reckless" in putting out incorrect information.

The Church suggested over the weekend that the Mayor had been told of allegations made against Mr Lewis during an event at Millwall football stadium on 11 May. It claimed the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev David Hawkins, spoke to the Mayor about Mr Lewis, who resigned on Friday after a series of allegations emerged about his time as a vicar in West Ham.

But today a spokesman admitted the conversation did not take place. The Rev Chris Newlands, chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford, which includes the Barking diocese, said: "I had a conversation with the Bishop of Barkingand that is what he told me [that the Bishop had a conversation with Mr Johnson about Mr Lewis] and that is what I reported. But when the Mayor questioned him [about the conversation], I went back to the bishop and he said he didn't think he did."

The Church now admits the only warning it gave to Mr Johnson was in a letter sent on 13 May, headed "Global day of Prayer". In the sixth paragraph, Bishop Hawkins wrote: "As you probably know your deputy mayor Ray Lewis was a Church of England clergyman in my Episcopal area in the Nineties. He is no longer serving in authorised ministry in the Church of England. If at any point you wish to speak to me about this do be in touch."

Mr Newlands accepted today that "with hindsight" the paragraph could have been more prominently placed. He added: "We never knew it would blow up the way it has. You cannot make an allegation without being absolutely sure you have everything backed up so writing between the lines is a standard way of saying we need to have a conversation about this." Read more

See also here.

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Richard Wood's Ordination

Richard Wood's ordination at Dagenham Parish Church, 5 July 2008. From left to right, Richard Wood, Bp David Hawkins (Bishop of Barking, Mike Reith (Vicar of Dagenham Parish Church).

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The barque of Peter should not pick up Anglican boat people

I have until now refrained from commenting on the turmoil affecting the Church of England, on the grounds that I am not an Anglican and therefore it is none of my business. As a Catholic, I have routinely been disgusted throughout the four decades since the Second Vatican Catastrophe by the propensity of outsiders - encouraged by the bogus ecumenical movement - to harangue the Holy Roman Church about its doctrine, practices and liturgy and to offer impertinent prescriptions for change.

Now, however, the Anglican contagion is invading the Catholic Church and that is quite another matter. The news that Anglican bishops have had private talks with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a provocative development. Any collective negotiation suggests that these disgruntled prelates envisage the possibility of some kind of corporate adherence to the Catholic Church. The barque of Peter should immediately hoist the signal: not wanted on voyage.

What kind of Catholic converts would these men be? The Church of England has been ordaining priestesses since 1994 - in itself testimony to the insincerity of Anglicanism in its so-called ecumenical discussions with Rome - yet these people were happy not only to continue within it but also to hold high office and to conduct services in cathedrals forcibly expropriated from the Catholic Church.

If immemorial tradition was not enough, their "Catholic" consciences ought to have been informed by the Apostolic Letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" issued by John Paul II on May 22, 1994, in which he infallibly decreed: "We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Read more
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Archbishop of Canterbury ‘a scapegoat’ in church split

The Archbishop of York yesterday made an impassioned intervention in the debate on the ordination of women bishops on the eve of a crucial vote on the issue by a bitterly divided Church of England.

Speaking at the church’s General Synod in York, John Sentamu said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was being made a scapegoat by traditionalists who blame him for opening up divisions in the Anglican communion over women priests and gays.

His comments came as the church was warned that it was in danger of “shattering” in the wake of tomorrow’s historic vote on a proposal to consecrate women.

Some members of the synod urged a postponement of the vote until more detailed proposals could be drawn up on how to cater for opponents.

Some bishops have held covert talks in Rome on possible arrangements to join the Catholic church should the General Synod go ahead with women bishops. “It has all been very cloak and dagger,” said a source. Read more
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Day of reckoning for Anglicans amid split over women bishops

The Church of England will today be plunged into one of the fiercest debates in its 400-year history as traditionalists go head-to-head with liberals over women bishops. Church leaders will attempt to avert new splits with a compromise plan for “super bishops” to minister to traditionalists who oppose women bishops.

Liberals will fiercely resist the plan, which is being seen as an attempt to appease traditionalists in order to get women bishops consecrated.

Campaigners for women's ordination will respond with an all-or-nothing proposal to consecrate women that includes no safeguards or concessions at all for opponents.

More than 1,300 clergy have threatened to walk out if the Church goes ahead with approving the consecration of women bishops without statutory provision to safeguard the traditionalists' place in the Church.

Women and liberals insist that they would rather not have women bishops at all than have a new, extra-geographical diocese legally established as a safe haven for Anglo-Catholics.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, are understood to favour a compromise that would avoid an exodus of the Church's Catholic wing, but they do not want the consecration of women jettisoned altogether because of the difficulties in appeasing both sides. Read more
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Anglican Church may create 'super bishops' to avoid splitting

A new class of "super bishop" could be created to cater for traditionalists who oppose the introduction of women bishops, in a last-minute bid to avert a split within the Church of England.

Under the plan, three male super bishops would be ordained to look after clergy and parishioners who do not want to be led by a female bishop, and would be answerable only to the Archbishops of York and Canterbury.

The solution emerged last night on the eve of a critical debate at a meeting of the church's ruling body. It came as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, called for unity, saying Jesus would feel the pain of traditionalists and homosexual clergy alike.

His plea came after it emerged that talks had been held with Vatican officials. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, who proposed the amendment, said: "I don't think the word compromise is a dirty word. We are all going to have to accept some limitation of where we would like to be." Read more
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Wright Fails to Understand Depth of Global Revulsion to Western Revisionism

The traditionalist Bishop of Durham, Dr. N. T. Wright who publicly criticized GAFCON before the event occurred, has come out swinging now that it is a done deal, condemning the Jerusalem gathering for its exclusivity and ambiguities.

In prepared remarks, he first called GAFCON "a great celebration of the gospel of the love and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Then he said, "The church needs this energy and vision." Then he slapped GAFCON leaders saying, "This doesn’t mean the GAFCON proposals can be accepted without question." He called the proposed ‘Primates’ Council’ "a strange body," and said the ‘Declaration’ "is an odd document which leaves many ambiguities."

"It gives far too many hostages to fortune, inviting us to trust an unformed and unaccountable body to make major decisions and giving licence to all kinds of unhelpful activities. It isn’t so much that GAFCON should invite people to sign up to its blank cheque. Rather, GAFCON itself should be invited to bring its Christian vision and exuberance to the larger party where the rest of us are working for the same gospel, the same biblical wisdom, the same Lord."

Wright regards himself as an Evangelical, though many evangelicals in England have become increasingly skeptical as to his evangelical credentials because of his views on St. Paul and Justification by Faith, among other things.

Wright also said GAFCON’s plans to let parishes break from liberal bishops are ridiculous and "deeply offensive". He said that the idea they have a monopoly on Biblical truth won’t do."

"There’s a lot of bits that’s going to fly around the room if you do that, especially here in England where we do not have the same problems that they have in America," he added.

"The coalition of Gafcon is a very odd combination of hard-line evangelicals, who would never use incense in a communion service, who would never wear Eucharistic vestments, along with Anglo-Catholics from America for whom those things are absolutely de rigeur.

The comments of Bishop Wright need to be put under the microscope from the perspective of global Anglicanism and not merely through the narrow lens of the Church of England’s diminishing role and place in the worldwide communion.

The truth is his views are in turn, paternalistic, provincial, insulting, dismissive, proud, arrogant, post-colonial and blind to the true state of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Read more
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Sunday, 6 July 2008

Tom Wright is not a happy bunny

3,500 words from Tom Wright here about why the Church of England doesn't need GAFCON and he is very cross and basically saying "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

Except that was Julian of Norwich.

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If we didn't leave, what did we accomplish at GAFCON?

It is important, when considering what was accomplished at GAFCON, to keep in mind its singular focus. That focus was to identify the Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, to claim that identity for the whole Anglican Communion and to provide a firm oversight and standing from which to confess the apostolic faith as we Anglicans have received it.

This singular focus meant that many very important matters were not directly addressed at GAFCON, in the Statement or in the Jerusalem Declaration. This by no means relegates matters such as the status of 5th, 6th and 7th Councils, the ordination of women, the form of the Anglican Communion, abortion, the nature of and conflict with militant Islam, our relation to the persecuted Church etc. to secondary issues.

There are serious issues and differences among the fellowship of confessing Anglicans that must and will be faced. It will not be easy, nor will solutions be sudden, nor can we be absolutely certain that some will not, in the end, decide they must walk apart. The difference is that they will be faced in the context of the authority of Holy Scriptures and the apostolic faith as Anglicans have historically received it. Read more
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The Auschwitz album

[...] Several people at the museum told me that the strangest thing about the album for them is that a person can look again and again at the images and never find an answer to the question, 'How could you have done what you did?' One thing that is particularly troubling is the presence of so many doctors and the pseudo-scientific legitimacy that their participation lent to the selection process. I showed the album to Robert Jay Lifton, the psychiatrist and author of The Nazi Doctors (1986). Alcohol, Lifton told me, is what made it possible for many of the doctors to persevere when killing was substituted for the imperative to heal, or at least to do no harm. 'What the doctors found there was overwhelming,' he said, 'even to Nazis who had seen things before. It was staggering. The doctors would have symptoms like post-traumatic symptoms; they would have bad dreams, they would be upset, sometimes they would say, "We shouldn't be part of this," but they would often say this while drinking.' Read more
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Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops.

They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future.

They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.

The names of the bishops are known to The Sunday Telegraph, but they have asked for anonymity because the talks are of such a sensitive and potentially explosive nature. Read more
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Giles Fraser: Enough is enough. The extremists must be confronted

[...] The conservatives have decided that they can exploit the deep homophobia of many African Christians in order to stage a coup for the soul of the church. Suddenly, we are once again fighting the unresolved battles of the Reformation, with narrow-minded puritans seeking to impose their joyless and claustrophobic world-view on the rest of the church. The newly formed Federation of Confessing Anglicans (Foca) is seeking bridgeheads in wealthy evangelical parishes and the English ecclesiological peace treaty lies in tatters. All eyes now turn to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Is there anything he can do about these Focas?

His track record isn't all that encouraging. Since this crisis began, Dr Williams has been bending over backwards to accommodate evangelical demands. Despite his progressive instincts, he reversed his support for the gay cleric Jeffrey John becoming a bishop and then decided that he would not invite Bishop Gene Robinson to the forthcoming Lambeth conference. Time and again, the Archbishop has given in to conservative ultimatums in the search for unity. And all that happens is that they come back for more.

A traditionally inclusive church like the C of E is especially vulnerable to infiltration by extremists. For the whole point of being inclusive is that all are welcome. It's a natural openness that is currently being exploited by those who have no love in their heart for the very inclusivity that allows them in in the first place. Even more so than the Labour Party in the 1970s, the English church is vulnerable to entryism. If fundamentalist Christianity were allowed to take over the Church of England, it would gain unprecedented access to national government through its role as the established church. The prospect of a state church, determined to convert Muslims, should set off huge flashing red lights in every corridor of power. In America, the separation of church and state creates a firewall between fundamentalist religion and state power. We have no such protection. Read more
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