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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I Have Sinned


Derivative work. Original image was taken by b...

Derivative work. Original image was taken by bobsh_t Flickr user. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder how many of us have decided to go to confession as part of our preparation for Easter.  It is a good thing that works wonders for many of us, maybe it can help everyone.

There is something very particular and deeply prayerful about making your confession to God with another person, in my case, a Priest.

It is radically different in intensity to the General confession made collectively at a service, such as at the Mass.

This type of confession is quite hard to do, and for me is very daunting each time I go along to do it, but, as I say, the deep prayerfulness, the intimacy of the experience can be breathtaking.

For those of you who have not done it, you are missing out on an opportunity to be with God in a particularly intimate and powerful way and I hope that you do manage to find a way to access this blessed opportunity.

Mind you, there are things to be mindful of.  Go to someone who you know to be prayerful and in whom you recognise wisdom, and that may not be your local vicar!  It does not have to be a priest but I know of few lay people who offer this service, and the traditional catholic view would be that the absolution cannot be pronounced by a lay person.

This last point is something I would agree with but it is not an essential feature of confession and would not want it to stop you making your confession.  The absolution is secondary to the act of confession and good catholic traditionalists will remind us that the Holy Spirit is free to go wherever it wills.


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What is in a name? Potential for a fight maybe?

Français : La tour de Babel en construction

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It is perhaps time that I was a little more honest with my readers and tell you all that MrC is a Neo-Anglican-Post-Arcic-High Catholic with trasubstatiarory megalomaniac leanings.

Ordinands may now be diving for their reference books, the rest of you will realise that I am talking a bit of nonsense.  The point of this blog is to ask a very important question; What labels (words) can we use in the Anglican Community when describing one another?

Now before you switch off because you don’t like labels or see people as individuals not as belonging to a group, which has the potential, nay the inevitable consequence of misrepresenting people; let me say that I think it is quite obvious that ‘labels’ (words) have a real usefulness.

It might be interesting to think about the list of words you could put together to describe different religious groupings in your church.  Were not allowing, mad-bunch or reactionary-b**tar*s.

In my quick list I’ve included the following; Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, Liberal-Catholic and Charismatic.

These ‘labels’ (words) have had a usefulness that have served us quite well in the past, allowing us to talk about groupings to better understand the make-up of our churches.  I realise that these labels have been unhelpful too.  The use of such labels might allow us to make assumptions about people, assumptions that are unjustified, but labels can still be good and useful tools when used responsibly.

I think we do have a problem developing in today’s church, because definitions are changing and the clear demarcations between groups that we once used have given way to softer merging shades.  The clear edges are still  there, and hard-liners (how apt) would want to remind us of the clarity of Anglo-Catholicism or indeed Conservative Evangelism.  Nonetheless the assumptions that one was able to make in times past are not reliably viable any more.

The issue of women’s ordination to the Priesthood has posed questions about what one might assume about someone calling herself an Anglo-Catholic.  Evangelicals come n many flavours today and Charismatics are no longer dismissed as the ‘crazed creators of chaos’ as they often were, at one time.

The use of labels is helpful and perhaps we need to revisit the language we use to talk about groupings in churches.

The need to understand what beliefs, values and opinions are likely to be held by one person is important in our one to one interactions.  To understand, and be able to talk about, the way people gather together into groups who share similar beliefs, values and opinions, is of quite significant importance, for example in the General Synod of the Church of England.  Having some way of reliably and fairly easily referring to such groupings is sometimes crucial to following debate and understanding voting outcomes.

It could be that it is the ‘post-modern’ pick-n-mix that makes the usefulness of labels less reliable.  The logical cohesion of values in groups like the Catholics or the Protestants, the Evangelicals or the Broad-Church are, maybe, not as clear cut any more.

The Church of England has, for a very long time, been proud of its ability to accommodate a breadth of Churchmanship, but I think that this attribute has been thrown into question by the fragmentation of recent years.

It might be helpful for us to reconnect at a basic level, and for us to emphasis our common Christianity, to think about what unites us as one.  The usefulness of labels, though, remains and having considered what we hold in common, perhaps we can reconsider the factions within Christianity or Anglicanism and use new labels accordingly.

Here you can find an excellent description of changing ‘labels’ and much more; concerning ‘Evangelism’ DON’T MISS IT.


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Pennsylvania, Zimbabwe and Christ. You and Me too. Mtt’ 18:21-35

Sunset from Sutro Bath at Land's End in San Fr...

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The sad truth is that the history of our church, of our religion, is strewn with upset and falling’s out, and you may have noticed that this is the way of all religions.

I have been reading a little about the pain and upset in the Pennsylvanian Christian community at the blog ‘Anglican Curmudgeon’ following on from an original link in ‘Thinking Anglicans’.  As an outsider it is somewhat fascinating, if a little voyeuristic, and links well with a dialogue regarding the visit of Mr Williams, to Zimbabwe.

Put simply; the arguments and wickedness of all of us are writ large, in both our deplorable history and in our broken present.

It is easy for us to claim rights, whatever side we stand on whatever divide you wish to cite.  It is easy for us to claim injury by the ‘opposition’ and it is easy to whitewash our own mud and muck. The strenuous shouts of the victors are rarely without someone in the throng reflecting on the price that is paid for that victory.  That price will frequently include; moral corruption on both sides.

In cyberspace, I have heard many people shout out against perceived ‘disloyalty’ and claim moral righteousness, and if you are on the opposite side of thier argument then their shouts can be quite painful.  However the truth, as I see it, is that we are all guilty of moral corruption.  I do not apologise; wrong doing and wrong heartedness is not the prerogative of ‘the other side’.  We are very wrong if we believe ourselves to be ‘above such wickedness’.

MrC has often railed against the corruption of senior clergy, and here I want to add that the moral certainty of our Church leaders, without humility and the acceptance that they may be wrong, falls precisely into this ‘devils trap’.  Corruption of this sort encourages ever bolder corruption.

In Christ we have the answer though, for in Him is the grace of God which alone can rescue us from our religious feuding and our frail human indignation.  However the stumbling block means that we  are often unable to step closer to Him and receive His blessing.  To do that we have to let go of our precious victories, and indeed our much loved claims of injury.

I wish Mr Williams, all the best, on his trip to Zimbabwe; the faithful will appreciate being noted for a change.  I do hope that he contains his temper and keeps up his benign appearance.  Most of all, I pray for a better future for everyone.


Matt 18:21 (NRSV) Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.

35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Christianity in England: How the other third worship.

Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

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Recently, MrC has been experiencing Christianity here in England from a  less familiar place; namely, Christianity as promoted by the Roman Church.  I felt a bit uncomfortable at the Mass though, as I seemed to be crossing myself more often than the rest of the congregation.  Yet I was delighted at how many of the prayers and responses I knew, ‘word perfect’.

Officially I shouldn’t receive the ‘Roman’ version of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ; but I did, and nothing dreadful has happened to me, so far.  Again I was delighted, this time at the ease with which I integrated into the way the Roman Church distributes the sacrament. Really, it was easy peasy.

The readings were not unfamiliar to me, and the way that the psalm was tackled was refreshing; not sung, but said, unrushed and well metered.  The hymns, oh blessed joy, were all my favourites and all actually sung by the congregation, rather than whispered, mouthed, mumbled or murdered.

The sermon was good.  It was introduced by a funny (ha ha) story which, whilst only having a strained relevance to the point of the sermon, was very engaging.  The Preacher made one clearly expressed and memorable point, which I remembered for the rest of the day.  He then went on, in a way I am very familiar with, to over-stay his welcome. Nothing changes!

All in all this was a refreshing and enjoyable experience, it was warm and the atmosphere was friendly, even the exchange of the peace was, for me, just right; not over-enthusiastic and not ‘cold’.

All in all? 8 out of 10.  It would have scored a 9, but it has some rather archaic ecclesiology, which spoilt it a little for me.

See you soon MrC

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Who do you reject?


Image by Jon McGovern via Flickr

Who do you reject?

Let’s nail this one (sorry for the allusion) but fundamentally, who do YOU reject?  By reject I mean, not let into your church, not allow to worship next to you?  With whom do you feel uncomfortable sharing the ‘peace’ and why?

Take a minute and consider what person you would not have sitting next to you in the pew on a Sunday.  For me it is a question of what is in the heart of each one of us.  We are advised to make sure we get along with one another before we worship together and to put things right before we do.

A good friend of mine, a priest, had an issue, a serious one concerning honesty, with a parishioner at a PCC meeting.  Despite numerous attempts to put things right during the week the priest failed to resolve the matter.  At the Sunday service the next Sunday the parishioner arrived as usual and sat in his accustomed pew.  Everyone was waiting for the service to begin when the priest called the parishioner into the vestry.  Quiety and privately they ‘sorted’ their problem out and then, with a wonderful warmth and affection, the service began.

This is a good example of how we should be but is that how it is in our churches generally and if not, why not?  The awkwardness of Parish life is common.  There are many country parishes here in the UK which are dominated by one person or a couple, who fill others with so much dread that mission and inclusion is stifled at every PCC meeting.  The rejection of the wider community is often voiced with the bitter words, ‘they never come to church’ or ‘we’ve tried that before’.

But the problem is not only with those we readily despair of.  In the Anglican Communion here in England, the rejection of Gay people runs deeply.  So deeply that sections of the communion are openly hostile to them and do not allow them full participation in their churches.  The rejection of women as bishops and the rejection of Gay men as bishops are the two most talked about things in the church’s intelligentsia at the moment (Synod members).  In the parishes it is the theft of lead from the church roof!!!!

Moving on.  The attitude of clergy is not always good, and I have myself witnessed them deriding and mocking sections of the community, working class men, elderly women, and of course Gay people.  I have reports from others that suggest that my experience is not unique and laughter towards others for being ‘different’ goes on today.

Back in the seventies I witnessed black people being allowed into the church community, so far and no further.  Happily some of that attitude is disappearing yet prejudice based on ignorance abounds still in so many places.  We should not rest on our laurels and we, perhaps, should challenge prejudice whenever we see it, but do we have the courage, or are we more ready to deny Him?

I can imagine there are groups of people you will want to put on your, ‘cautious’ list, to be honest I have an ‘avoid at all cost’ list so I am probably no better than those I mention here.  I am human (in a cat sort of way J ) too.  Yet being subject to failure ourselves should not stop us trying to put things right, or speaking out when we see prejudice.

How can we find a place to be together, in a loving and accepting way, for everyone who wants to do that?  Perhaps we need to listen more to Jesus.

 Matthew 7: 1-5“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.








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