Anglo Catholicks and the Church of England

I have been an Anglo Catholic since the early 1970′s and before that I was mildly Catholic but still learning about Christianity in a village church which was more or less High Church with a slight leaning towards the Catholic approach to worship and ecclesiology.

Since then I have learn a lot about the way that the church of England came into being and it is not a pretty story.  I had grave misgivings about the nature of the Anglican Communion and sought clarification from a wise Priest.  He helped me to consider the Church of England as being part of the continuing Catholic Church which was not Roman but still Catholic.

Now I am quite confused, and in a way that is a good thing.  If I were certain of my understanding then I think I would be in serious doubt of my thinking.

For me the Church of England cannot be a separate body, for if it is then heaven will be a very restricted experience.  Many of it’s doctrines are clearly erroneous within the great scheme of things, not least the matter of divorce and the role of the Monarch.  Divorce and the Monarch are where the Church of England begins, and the late medieval machinations of powerful clerics and temporal lords played about with these ‘doctrines’ whilst the common people were governed by another standard.

How I feel today about the label ‘Catholic’ is very different from the 70′s.  I feel that it is certainly not applicable to non-conformist denominations and does imply some adherence to long held practice and belief, but what that really is, I do not know.


Touching the hem of Christ’s Vestments.

English: Logo of the Church of England

English: Logo of the Church of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Tomorrow there will be a discussion concerning the safeguarding procedures in relation to the abuse of children and vulnerable adults as it applies to the Church of England.  It seems however to be concerned, not only with prevention but also with punishment.

Whilst I fully accept the rightness of ensuring that people who are considered to be a risk to children and vulnerable adults are not allowed to have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults in church, I cannot see anywhere acknowledgement that such people may wish to repent and may wish to continue to have a sacramental relationship with God via the church.

The document fails to provide any guidance on how such people might be integrated into the Church.

The preoccupation about wearing vestments or clerical dress in this document is perhaps warranted, but the lack of pastoral guidance for the wicked is lamentable.  The demonising of such people is a sad reflection on the church and the dehumanisation of perpetrators is unhelpful.  They are reduced to the scathing reference; ‘these people’.

“The sexual and physical abuse that has been inflicted by these people on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame for years to come.” (my emphasis)

Be assured, I am not condoning any form of abuse, simply asking for a less vehement response in dealing with those who are responsible for ‘individual wickedness’.  We have a responsibility to ‘deal’ with them in their entirety, as sinners and as penitents.

It is good to hear the Archbishops citing Christ in their letter…

“All contemporary safeguarding policies and procedures in the Church should be a response to what we learn and see in Jesus himself… In witness to this faith and to our sense of obligation to children who are brought to Jesus through the care of the Christian community, the Church should set for itself the highest standards of care available to our society today”

Yet we also know that ‘what we learn and see in Jesus himself’ includes the grace of forgiveness and a responsibility to care for all who are outcast.

I also feel that the Archbishops should acknowledge that some abusers are themselves victims of abuse and may need special care by the church and church authorities for that very reason.  To cast them out may be to compound the very real harm they also live with.  I say this without any intention whatsoever of diminishing the guilt of the sinner nor seeking any action that would jeopardise a child or vulnerable adult.. or anyone else for that matter.  The daily rape by my Uncle and the chilling threats over many weeks when I was aged 7 haunt me every day.  I feel utterly desolate without the fellowship of my church and some acknowledgement of my repentance and desire to make some reperation.  My voice is the voice of a sinner, yes and i will always have that before me, but there is also the voice of the child within me, a voice that today I recognise more clearly thanks to my friends, both in Synod and online.  I could not cry out then, but i can today.

I would like the Archbishops to listen to me also when they say…

“It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the House and the Council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.” (my emphasis)

I shall not be at Synod this year but I hope that the brave may find something here to speak about.

In His service  MrC

Those who are of Riper Years….. and LGBT’s


St James the Lesser (after El Greco) MrC

I’m sorry but I can’t find my copy of the old book of Common Prayer, but I remember bits pretty well and it is still canonical.

In it I recall a wedding service variation for ‘those who are of riper years’.  [No I don't... See Richard's comment below(many thanks)]  This was a service for older people getting married who wouldn’t expect to have children born within the marriage. I’m quite fed up with hearing the rhetoric of those who bang on about Marriage being about procreation. It is not, where that is not possible.

Therefore the Anglican Communion has long ago recognised the marriage of one person to another where children are not going to be an outcome of their comfort towards one another.

A warm welcome… at last…

Scream Cropped

Scream Cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hooray.  I have found myself accepted in a small group run by MIND.  There is something quite wonderful in finding the oppeness and truy non-judgemental attitude in other people.  I have experienced it online, with my dear friends and now I have a ‘congregation’ that does not villify or hold over me my past.

Now I have come to understand that the actons that we do have consequences and that we have to accept those consequences without complaint, indeed I apologise over and over again for my sin.

But in this small group of people, mostly social outcasts, I find acceptance.  They are the limbs of Christ, the lips of Christ and the voice of Christ to me.  Along with my dear online friends who have been generous in loving me, these vulnerable compatriots are my peers; we come together, we talk, we paint, we drink tea, and we depart.

Some come by occasionally, some are regulars and faithful weekly participants, and some are seen once and maybe never again.  The staff and volunteers are kind, too kind for me, but that will improve over time.  They surround me with acceptance and touch me at my pace, they expect nothing and they offer much.

It may not be a wealthy place, it may not have fine robes or the dignity of procession and hierarchy nor the certitude of holding God’s Grace to administer to whom they deem fit…yet they have warmth and goodness and care.


Waiting to die or to be raised? From Good Friday to Easter to Good Friday.

Waiting to die or to be raised?

"The Good Samaritan"

“The Good Samaritan” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in isolation, more or less, is particularly hard if memories of a previous time of abundant social contact, and happy contact often, become a constant reminder of the contrast in what was and what is.  The attempt to take an interest in other things, study, creative activity (painting, writing, reading) is difficult without any ‘end product’ being discernable.

I am made acutely aware of the situation that so many people endure in societies globally and in particular here in England, and I am especially mindful of the isolation that older people experience.    This ‘loneliness’ is perhaps harder to bear if one is living on a low income and more so if one is suffering from chronic depression.  I think it is reasonable to suggest that such isolation may contribute to increased depression if not become the actual cause of depression for many.

The desire for social interaction (and maybe the simple reason that I am writing this) is strong, but one can easily become ambivalent about the prospect of social contact.  Whether there is any real opportunity for being with others is another thing.  The needs of the socially isolated are complex and become more involved as time goes on.  The desire to be with others is opposed by the fear of being unable to successfully interact with others.  One feels out of practice, and even unworthy, though this may be more to do with my own particular case.

The failure to develop regular and meaningful relationships leaves the isolated person without the normal support that we might take for granted.  Simple activities, paying bills, dealing with authorities and even what to eat, are never shared; the only advice one has is ones own.  Easter is indeed a time for rejoicing and the resurrection from death of Jesus is a great fact that fills us with gladness and thanksgiving.   For the isolated person, though, it may also sharpen the contrast of how sparse ones existence truly is.

The Church is a vehicle for hope and it has been given a wonderful task, to declare The Resurrection of Jesus Christ anew to every generation.  One issue that today’s Church of England, and others in the Anglican Community share, is the proclamation of that Resurrection to today’s world and today’s people.

The Samaritan, the leper and the prostitute were welcomed and blessed by Jesus.  Today, we have the task of declaring welcome, on equal terms, to women, to all sexual orientations and to those whom society vilifies perpetually.

How will the Church declare the Gospel?  To whom will it speak?  Will it be able to do God’s work? Will it speak to everyone?  If it does then how will it enact that Gospel?  How will it welcome the isolated?  Will it be generous and give the isolated bread, or will it keep it tightly locked up in the tabernacle, in its exclusive rites and laws, in its fear of popular villification?  Do we hear the cock crow thrice still?


Hope for Unity from Rome to Lambeth

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade brasileiro Frei Galvão celebrada pelo papa Bento XVI no Campo de Marte em São Paulo, Brasil. (fragment) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been reported in the Tablet this week that new proposals are being put forward By the Roman Church to the Anglican Communion generally and the Church of England specifically which are a radical departure from earlier attempts to bring the two Christian communities into a positive and lasting dialogue.

On the matter of Women Priests, the Roman Church are willing to review the Socio-theological basis for removing a male only priesthood.  On the matter of the marriage of clergy, Rome is making fairly explicit statements  via various informal, but authoritative spokespersons that it has no objection to this, in fact it believes that the Anglican position might act as a useful stalking horse to allow Roman Clergy to marry if they so desire.

The proposals are , as yet, unofficial

but insiders are saying that the leaking of the proposals are being deliberately engineered from the highest authorities in order to prepare the way for radical change.  “Many of our differences have been worked through by the ARCIC process” Msgr Coverner has been quoted as saying.

However it is early days, and the most difficult sticking point between the two Communities has yet to be resolved.  This may make real progress very difficult in the last analysis.  Msg Coverner  made things quite clear.  Speaking on behalf of the new Pope, he said, “We are prepared to move on issues regarding marriage and possibly gender, even on the thorny matter of Gay clergy, however, we will not be moved on the Malvinas”  It is reported that Lambeth are likely to be equally intransigent.  It is yet to be seen if these proposals see any real progress in uniting the two communities.




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In days of Old when Knights were bold

Chess knight 0971.jpg

Chess knight 0971.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In days of Old when Knights were bold and they couldn’t get hold of a woman, they’d turn their attentions to the Squire.  Well at least according to Richard Bulliet of Columbia University in New York,  but differently worded.

I have tremendous respect for Dick.  His common sense approach and depth of knowledge concerning the whole region of the middle east and beyond is utterly impressive and his ability to communicate is refreshing.

His line about the relationship between the Knight and his Squire does establish a point though.  If History is recorded, then we have the written record to accept or challenge it’s orthodoxy.  If it isn’t then we can embellish the ‘story’ and add our own little bit to the story as it is retold.  The last verse to Four and Twenty Blackbirds, where I grew up included this odd ending…

“the maid was in the garden, pegging out the clothes when down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose, She went to the doctors to get a wooden nose,she looked in the mirror and dropped down dead.”

Now I don’t want to discuss the problems of religious fundamentalism, but I do want to raise the question of who is writing the history of the Church today.  Dick is able to conjecture the sexuality of the Knights of Old and is adding to the narrative.  Today, using Social Media, the people are beginning to add to the Nnarrative of the history of the Church in a way that has never been available ‘ in the whole of history’.  The social media sites offer a conduit for everyone to vent their angry reactions to bullying and such done ‘in the name of the Church’.

The stories of corruption and misuse of power are beginning to be hinted at and sometimes are being exposed.  The light of the people is shining on the Middle East through Social Media and the Arab Spring is one of many surges of influence that is new to this planet.

The people with power are being challenged by the people with mobile phones.  The government’s poor record on protecting sealife, here in the U.K. is being challenged by an online campaign called Fish Fight and similar single issue campaigns are developing, something that could never be imagined by clergy thirty years ago.

The dear old Church of England, or more precisely, it’s senior leaders, have a steep hill to climb if they truly believe that they can continue to keep a lid on ‘the scandal of double standards.  ‘Homosexuality and Bisexuality amongst ‘Bishops of old’ may be safe from exposure, but the gap between what is said from the pulpit of Church House and the bedroom, the gap between what is eschewed as unloving and unchristian and the portfolio of Church Investment or the manners of prelates will become ever more exposed, albeit in under so many characters.

So we may speculate about the Knights of Old and their Squires, indeed we might know a thing or two about the Bishops of old, but today’s leaders, including those of the Churches, are being scrutinised by far more people than Richard Bulliet of Columbia University in New York.  As Robet Lindsay used to say playing Citizen Wolfie Smith… Power to the People!

Maybe our technology will instil some humanity after all…..


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Mr C’s Christmas Surprise (or more accurately Epiphany.)


Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: The Three Wise Men” (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: “Mary and Child, surrounded by angels”, mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called “Master of Sant’Apollinare”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In the ancient manuscript of the Peshitta there is an extensive account of the fourth wise man, and more, which the Church has suppressed.

The ancient Syrian document tells of the start of their journey beginning with a lengthy debate the night before they set out.

Gaspar.           Go we now to follow the star? (as he smoked his woodbine)

Melchior .        No Gaspar, on the morrow for tonight we have matters to sort out first, prithee.

Balthasar        Yay, verily t’is true Gaspar for we are sore vexed and all awash with dissention.

Gaspar.           How then?  Whence comes this untimely discord?

Balthaser.       You were outside round the back when this tension was revealed,

Gaspar                        oh right, sorry about that lads.

Melchior.         Philip has said he will not ride with us this night.

Gaspar.           Why not dear Philip, were we not agreed on the date?

Philip.              Yay verily we were anon, but hie thee without me, for it is a bad omen that we travel under this cloud of disunity.

Gaspar.           Disunity?  Why this is news to me, what is up Dear Philip?

Philip.              I am unsure that we will be welcome in all lands and this vexes me sore.

Balthasar.       Philip thinks we need to include a woman in our number lest the lands we travel through think us biased and unbalanced.

Melchior.         T’is true dear Gaspar, how think you on this matter my old mate?

Gaspar.           I don’t know to be honest, what do our followers believe on this matter, have we consulted with them at all?

Balthasar.       Of course we have, as on all matters that bother them, but they have been hoodwinked by a few who believe that women are somehow peculiar to God.

Gaspar.           Bathasar, you have been our voice to them, what believe you about women?

Balthasar.       I too think a woman cannot ride a camel very well and it would be awkward for us if one of us rode side saddle.  I believe that it impossible to ride side saddle on a camel and thus no woman should accompany us on this arduous journey.

Melchior.         Forgive me brothers but I am not certain that all women ride side saddle anymore, I have reports of women riding camels as we do.

Philip               This is blasphemy for surely God ordained it so, that women ride side saddle and men do not.

Gaspar.           I have heard tell of some men, in forign lands, who have taken it upon themselves to ride side saddle in secret, and more….

Melchior.         Go on Gaspar pray tell…

Gaspar.           I have heard that in the northern kingdoms some men are riding side saddle openly, and that the common people do not find this amiss.

Balthasar.       I don’t believe it, say it is not so Gaspar…

Gaspar.           T’is true, I have letters from one of my cousins saying as much.

Philip.              I cannot condone this behaviour but our journey must succeed.  What are we to do?

After more deliberation and much puzzling Melchior spoke out.

Melchior.         I have it.  Let us take into our number a fifth, a woman.

Balthasar.       A Woman!

Melchior.         Hear me out friends.  If we compromise we can take a woman with us who would not ride side saddle and if we come to a kingdom that gives women equality we would be able to show her to them and appease them.  In our journal, however we will make no mention of her and our own followers will not be scandalised.  I know of such a woman who may fit the bill.

Philip.              If we are found out, we would be a focus for disunity, I cannot agree.

Gaspar.           Sounds like a good idea to me.

Balthasar thought and then spoke.  It is a good compromise and we might get away with it if were careful.

Melchior.         Philip, I entreat thee to reconsider.

Philip.              No my mind is made up, I will remain here and tend the followers as before.

Baltasar.         Than so be it.  Take our blessing dear Philip and go back to your former work.  Melchior, who is this woman?

Melchior.         Her name is  Katharine, a woman of clear vision and well versed in the use of the astrolabe and knows the powers of the Pebbles, shells, twigs and feathers.

Balthasar.       Fetch her and be quick.  We have no time to loose.

Hypocrisy in the House of Bishops

Firstly there is the ‘supposedly’ single bishop, who speaks out against ordaining gay people. Yet he himself is gay and is active on the gay internet scene, meeting men online to have affairs and ‘liaisons’ with.  He has hardly ever had a long term relationship, but has had numerous one night stands. As a parish priest he would not have countenanced marrying a couple who lived together before getting married and as a bishop speaks about the ideal of being celibate if not married.  Apparently he does not see his own behaviour as promiscuity because it is with men and not women.  He is known to sometimes resort to a little persuasion (some might say blackmail) if someone threatens to expose him and his behaviour. He is powerful and influential…
Then, there is the retired married bisexual bishop.  During his time as a suffragan and a diocesan bishop (and no doubt throughout his ministry) he had affairs with men… some of whom, his wife knew about.  Other senior clergy rallied round to protect him and colluded with his behaviour, including the ‘paying off’ of difficult ex boyfriends – no doubt from diocesan funds!   This bishop however, told his clergy they were not to ask him about blessing civil partnerships or gay relationships… and he let it be known through his chaplain that he would be most unhappy if any clergy raised the matter with him.  Come the clergy conference and other semi public events though he had no such hesitation about being ‘drapped’ across male clergy…
Finally, there is the bishop who promises the earth to PCCs, clergy and laity in his diocese alike. When it appears that he can’t deliver on these promises he blames others – the archdeacons, the diocesan staff, even his own family.  He claims expenses in a way that some may find suspicious and uses his bishop’s discretion fund with no sense of a transparent criteria.  He likes the finer things in life and is known to make extravagant demands as he travels the diocese. He preaches about honesty and holiness, being humble and self sacrificing…
Are these characters real you ask. Surely not, or there would be some evidence. People would speak out against this sort of behaviour.  Well, consider the bullying that goes on, the confidentiality clauses (gagging clauses) that are written into compromise agreements with staff, the old boys network of the House of Bishops, the threats, the intimidation, the manipulation… Are you so sure now, that these characters don’t really exist?

Challenge to you. Explain Christianity.

Christmas ball - Christianity

Christmas ball – Christianity (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

Why should anyone be a Christian?

What is the basic message that you would put to someone enquiring about the Christian Faith?

What are the essential pieces of information that one needs to convey the Christian faith?

Or is it something that is often socially and habitually acquired, perhaps from an early age.

Answers in comments please.a


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