Parishoners come first, except on Fridays.

Deutsch: Georgisch-orthodoxer Priester in Mzch...

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A long time ago, in the misty region of another life, I remember a new priest, about 28 he was, having served in his parish of a year meeting me and telling me that he really didn’t like the people he served.  Now that would be sad and bad enough, but his other mates who were in the same position sat down for sherry and each one of them proceeded to make the same complaint about their parishes.

I listened to this going on for about half an hour or so, out of a rare bout of politeness, and then I left the room.  I probably did tell them what I thought, but they were miserable creatures in any case who took delight in giving their opinions robustly and looking down their noses at most people.  It is no wonder they didn’t get on in the parishes.

Unfortunately it is a style of being that sticks and the moaning clergyperson is a feature of many a clergy chapter, sometimes they coagulate in a corner and it can be very difficult to get them to separate.

I know of a priest near to me who has no regard for her people whatsoever and her church is falling round her head in every sense I can imagine.  Her attitude to her few worshippers is appalling.  Her freehold status means that, unless she is offered something plumb, then they are saddled with her.  The needs of the people around her, are great and the support she has been offered is legion, but her inability to love her people leaves her, and her flock without sustenance.

I wanted to get this off my chest because I do feel that the readiness of many to complain about parishioners is often wrong.  I know what it is to have to tackle very difficult people who do their level best to undermine your good work.  I am fully conversant with the tricks and traps that are placed in the path of clergy, on occasion.  What I fail to get to grips with is the mindset that will deliberately reject the people the priests are called to serve.

I can have all the sympathy in the world for the stressed and isolated clergyperson.  I can show compassion and empathy for the priest who has lost his way.  But I find it hard to listen to people deliberately pulling down the people we serve and it is a habit that is best got out of as soon as it begins.

Apologies for the rant, and the directness of my writing, but I am miffed by some comments I have heard over the course of last week.


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Do you live here too?


Wagon with poster "We're a GAY and HAPPY ...

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I do wonder about clergy and the gay issue.  I was discussing the sexual orientation of a cool cat with a priest the other day and said that I have no problem one way or the other.  Setting aside the glaringly obvious curiosity about why I was having such a conversation in the first place, I am puzzled by the priest’s reaction.

If I’m truthful, I was hoping that the priest would join in with me and say that he did not have a problem either.  He said nothing.  He was quite silent and quite still.  He too is a cool cat, but I didn’t hear one hint of a purr.  The subject changed and the morning carried on.

It is odd and maybe relevant to me in a particular way because of my age and the culture I grew up in, but I do feel the need to say that I’m okay with people being gay.  It is perhaps more of a comment on me really.  I mean why do we have to make any kind of issue of it in the first place, surely it is quite silly, and maybe rude, to make something of it.  After all I don’t go around saying, I’m okay with heterosexuality.

Then I remember Jeffrey John, the gay priest: who Rowan and Mr Sentimoo are so eager to prevent being a Bishop because he is gay and that would divide the Anglican Communion, and this has happened elsewhere so they are trying to impose a set of rules to prevent it happening elsewhere without relational consequences: and I come to my senses.

I know it has all been said before, but every now and then I get a kick up the backside and remember how truly reactionary some parts of the Church are, and how interpretation of scripture, and tradition whilst were at it, can exclude and twist the human soul.  But on this occasion, the priest and I got on, as I said, with the day.

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Balancing the Books, just a little.

Statua di Aronne

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I had a good day today, and in the spirit of balance and fairness I am going to share my delight with you.  I know a good priest.  He is an Anglo-Catholic who I feel comfortable with.  He is hard working and very intelligent.  He has a sensitive and loving frame of mind, and a hint of that firmness that I like in a priest.  He is wise and gifted, I will call him Aaron.

Aaron cannot abide bad priest’s behaviour but is very cautious, indeed gracious in his comments about them; only occasionally allowing a shimmer of mischief to move across his face when he mentions one of them, usually in passing.

Aaron knows that I blog, this blog, but he is not involved at any level.  He knows that it is important to my spiritual life and, as far as I am aware, he approves well enough.  Aaron is patient and courageously supportive towards me.  We sit and pray, we sit and talk God.  We sit and talk God and people.  I like spending time with Aaron.

I like meeting good priests.  I like meeting good people.  Now and again, and this is one of the ‘now’s’, I do mention them, in passing.


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Tainted love

English: "Seen a strage ritual at Yasaka ...

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Whatever happened to the ‘tainted clergy’?  In the old days, if you were in any way a supporter of women as priests in the Church of England, you could find yourself in a very difficult situation, especially if you lived in a closed community where the dominant view was vehemently opposed to ‘priestesses’.

Attending an ordination of a woman to the priesthood was a most dreadful act and would deserve open shouts of derision, especially in ecclesiastical surroundings.  Participating in the ordination by stretching out your hand towards the ordinand, at the moment of her priesting, would demand that the opponent clergy cut you off totally, no matter how close a friend you may have been previously and no word would ever be uttered in your direction ever again.

You, my son, were now one of the ‘tainted’ and as such, a target for abuse, open disapproval and personal attack.  Such attacks were even more vicious than was meted out towards the ‘priestesses’ themselves.  You were a traitor and an outcast and not welcome any more.

However times move on and today many of these same stone-casters seem to have shifted their ground.  Some have moved their consciences and ecclesiologies, indeed their theologies and come to accept women in the priesthood.  Today they are able to maintain their previous cordial relationships with those who maintain their opposition to female priesthood and are invited to parties and cards are exchanged.  Today it is acceptable to change ones view, even if the motivation may be more pecuniary for some.  It is a good thing.  I am glad that they have become reasonable at last.

True there are little knots of spitefulness and chapters of hatred who are still besotted with vestigial tradition over plain Christ like love.  These kind of places are feeling the pip’s squeak these days and are jumping into bed with anyone who will listen to them; conservative evangelicals for example.  These odd bedfellows may still win the day at General synod, concerning women in the episcopate.  If they do, it will be a delay rather than a cessation and their days are numbered.

Many of the stone-throwers of old have recognised that their cause is lost and softened their attitude, learned to become more acceptable in public.  The men who poured forth their disapproval on the heads of their friends have learnt how to smile and embrace their friends whose opinions might differ.  The notion of the ‘tainted’ priest has, for them at least, gone.

However, those who were the first to ‘turn traitor’, they are never forgotten, not even by those who have learnt to change their public stance.  The cards and the invitations never arrive. Betrayal is something that is never forgiven and you, my son, are marked for life.


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