Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Which way?

Following on from the day of prayer for the future of Anglo-Catholics in the CofE and meetings and conversations with other clergy there are some points that I would like to share.
It seems to me that the road ahead for those of us who work within our tradition has three possible avenues.
The first, which for me is sinful, is to wave away our beliefs and loyalty to Christ and accept lock, stock and barrel what the new CofE is embracing, a kind of New Age postscript to what was once Christianity. Here, for now, the creed is ecological issues and the re-writing of the narratives where everything goes and everyone is in as long as one is not a stickler to the faith once delivered to the saints. This new life is not “aggiornamento” of the life of the Church but “accomodazione” of the spirit of this passing age captured in last Sunday’s Gospel as the cities of this earth, promised but never delivered. Jesus will still be claimed central to this new way of life, but his image will be viewed (disfigured) by the constraints of whatever is happening in the streets around us.  Rather then allowing the light of Christ to dispell darkness it will allow the darkness to negotiate with the light. The story of turning wine back into water. This will lead to the defragmentation of what should be the one body of Christ, as every area and every country will have its different context and set of problems. This will become a very loose federation of followers of Jesus that will learn to react rather then respond and that the authority of their voice will be very feeble as they are removing their backbone. As a respected bishop said not that long ago this is like watching a train crash in slow motion, but some would remain on that train come what may.
The second way is to start packing the bags so that when the call arrives people will join the Ordinariate and become Anglicans in communion with the Pope and so part of the Roman Catholic Church, united but not absorbed. Received with the gifts they have and as a common gift those who join can hold their beliefs with integrity. This is the mode that will remove the hesitation of the battlefield and will release people into the mission field of this great nation: proclaiming Christ afresh to each generation as with Peter they can say: “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!” In this second way there will be hardship and insecurity at first and the road ahead is not clear: the Ordinariate does not  yet exist and there are questions that need answers like, to just cite one, what is a “personal parish” and how will it work?
The third way depends on the good will of the powers to be in the CofE and might secure some kind of future to those who in conscience cannot join the Ordinariate. This seems to be favoured by some senior bishops of the CofE. Rumours have it that the Bishop of London is causing the London plan to be drafted again to fall within these lines. This is the transferred jurisdiction by statute. It means that once a bishop is consecrated or translated to look after petitioning parishes his jurisdiction is transferred/received from the law of this land. Now I do not know how much this is consistent with Scripture, Reason and Tradition and it might look like the proverbial Anglican fudge. It is also discriminatory  against traditionalists as this excludes them from sitting on the bench of bishops once women are admitted to it. Obviously, the transferred jurisdiction was clawed back by the Revision Committee but can always resurface in Synod. The question is will Synod be in the mood of allowing it.  There are also questions of who will consecrate who especially the second-generation bishops of this scheme. This might be a space for those who need longer to think about the Ordinariate and who would like to see it in action before joining it but it would also be a way how not to unchurch, at least for now, those who are High Church Protestants rather than Anglo-Catholics.
As you can see now that the day of prayer is over it does not mean that prayer should cease.

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