POPE BECOMES AN ANGLICAN
A matter of months after "going to Rome", Bishop Clarence Pope of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. has returned to Anglicanism. He is, to date, quite the most high profile returnee and official reasons are pretty thin on the ground. Friends are putting it about that he feels the traditionalists need him and pastoral reasons have prompted his return.
More objective observers are suggesting that his encounter with staggeringly banal liturgy, inclusive language and a liberal agenda scarcely less offensive than ECUSA's may have led to a rapid disillusionment. At least, as a bishop, he had a voice.
This and the prospect of Cardinal Martini, the Affirming Roman Catholics' choice as the next occupant of the See of Peter, may have been more than enough to trigger the return.
NOT SO MANY HAPPY RETURNS
A small but discernable trickle of former Anglicans have been coming back from Rome to communion with Canterbury. A senior church source has suggested that if those who go are said to have "POPED" should not those who return be said to have "reCANTed"?
The Affirming Catholicism conference in York recently had, as its star speaker, that well known catholic moral theologian Dr John Habgood. Always likely to be a popular turn for his achievements in the priesting of women, liberal views on the unborn child and willingness to review church teaching on homosexuality in the light of scientific discovery, even he was embarrassed by the enthusiasm of his welcome.
The good woman who had the task of introducing him announced him as the "Archbishop of Canterbury". So loud, long and enthusiastic was the ovation that greeted this error that the embarrassed Habgood had to discourage such open signs of disaffection from his senior partner.
Can an ancient and venerable institution decide to be something other than it actually is? This fascinating question will be decided in the High Court on September 18th when Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, will challenge Tony Blair's right to drop Clause 4, the commitment to common ownership and defining principle of Labour's claim to socialism.
The action will be heard by Mr Justice Lightman Q.C. who, in 1990, conducted an inquiry into NUM funding.
More interestingly for orthodox Christians it was the same Justice Lightman, a non-anglican, who dismissed the historic case brought by Fr Paul Williamson and ruled that the Anglican Church, "as by law established" had no historic guarantee or integrity and could be changed in every particular, including credal formulary, at the whim of Parliament
Don't hold your breath, Arthur.
"There is a strong feeling nowadays that women don't have to be married to be mothers" - thus Peter Colling, Chairman of Tidworth Parish Council on the appointment of Di Jones, 48, an unmarried mother, as vicar.
No one can argue with Mr Colling's statement from a biological viewpoint and it is true that single parenthood is a growth industry in our secular society. The Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, an Affirming Catholic, felt Ms. Jones experience would "give her a great sensitivity in dealing with all kinds of pastoral situations".
Ms Jones, who was quoted in the national press severally argued that: "Families come in all shapes and sizes...it does not make any difference....it is not important...it is an incidental thing."
Such enlightened views are clearly not shared in another diocese recently chastened by scandal. There a woman deacon has postponed her priesting because it clashed with her wedding day. This happy but hastily arranged event was timed to pre-empt, by a few weeks, the arrival of what we rural folk refer to as "God's wedding present."
Mother and child are well. As usual no resignations are expected.
TUTU IN SEXIST SHOE HULLABALOO
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of Cape Town and spiritual director to the Anglican hierarchy, has put his foot in it. Speculating on the forthcoming Mandela divorce, our Des suggested that "they should both be free to find congenial partners". He thought that Nelson should find a new first lady because he "needs to have someone to give him his slippers and on whose shoulder he can cry". These "sexist and denigrating remarks" were immediately condemned by the ANC Women's League - proprietor, the lovely Winnie Mandela, outgoing first lady.
MUSLIM WINS CATHEDRAL APPEAL
Lord's Day Observance Society members were fuming when the go-ahead Dean of Chester, Stephen Smalley, led the way for sabbath racing recently. It is odds on that Bishop Baughen, who could find no scriptural exemptions to the fourth commandment which mentioned the sport of kings, was less than delighted.
The Cathedral Appeal stakes was won by a Dubai Sheikh's horse and the successful jockey received a case of cathedral wine. An event which brought together Christianity, Islam, Mammon and Bacchus must win the prize for the ecumenical event of the summer.
Dean Smalley, whose 37 year career in the C of E has included two years in a parish (St Paul's, Portman Square 1958 -1960), was delighted. The day was " a family day...why shouldn't we go out and share their joy?"
Rumours in the Chester Vestry (or unsaddling enclosure as it is now known) that canons will, henceforth, be llifted into their stalls for Evensong, before being given the 'off' by the starter (or Precentor, as was) have been hotly denied.
A B C AND D?
A major ecclesiastical patron has recently circulated enquirers with details of an interesting go-ahead parish in the South West. After pages of parochial detail and appended notes on the passage of votes A B and C the wardens write:
"The parish priest will be male and heterosexual!"
They were going to ask for a "family man"; but apparently neighbouring parishes have advised that, in their experiece, this is not sufficiently specific.
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