Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Another Helping of FOCA, with the Church on the Side.

The Sacred Heart at St Hilda's this morning.

The first day of the new convent was not a success!

Fr John Livesley facing towards the East and Our Lady, not FOCA.

Blast. It's only Wednesday and already it seems as though weeks have passed by in terms of the Church. Usually slow to act, the last two days have seen tremendous activity in Lambeth and FOCA (the new GAFCON-bred Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans). This bodes badly for your scribe as the many emails which you have sent remind me, that you like to read up-to-date information on this blog so I am typing furiously trying to discern fact from gossip.

The meeting at All Souls, Langham Place has taken place of course and the organisers claimed to have been surprised at the turnout when questioned by the press. Your scribe had, however, been on their website the day before and they were advertising a 'first come first seated' policy, remarking that when it is full, this is it and to come early. Maybe I should advertise the Thursday evening Bible Study group with the same semi hysterical salesmanship?

Now, it's perspective time. There have been an awful lot of figures floating around recently and they seem to grow every day. Three hundred African Bishops is a minority of African Bishops and they are all from the same tropical belt which has, for a number of reasons, always been deeply conservative. I would argue that this is to do with their lack of Western influence and interest, due to their paucity of natural resources, ie, nothing for us to buy, no oil, no diamonds, no interest. Western conservative evangelical Anglicans have for some time looked at this area and sent missionaries into the area to prepare the way for, well, what has just happened. Who is who's pawn? It is truly hard to tell.

But maybe, just maybe, everyone is really concerned about Anglicanism, rather than just creating a schism without the tortuous legal wranglings which this would ensue. If they are, they are acting in a very un Anglican way, for it has not been the policy of the Archbishop of Canterbury to impose doctrine or to discipline. It is for Canterbury to enable and to guide, with tolerance for all the many strands of the Church and to be a point of unity in a troubled Church and, indeed, to give the Church a credible spokesman, rather than a number of dissenting voices. This action by FOCA is, as has been rightly said, a post colonial land grab of epic proportions and as such, lacks any legitimacy. I cannot believe that so many people truly want a Church which only accommodates them and their point of view and still expect to be labelled as a Christian Church, founded on Peter and Paul, the first schism!

Anyway, the following clergy in England do...
Ashton, Mark, St Andrew the Great, Cambridge
Austen, Simon, St John Houghton, Carlisle
Banting, David, St Peter's, Harold Wood
Bickersteth, Piers, St Bartholomew, Arborfield
Broomfield, Iain, Christ Church, Bromley
Clark, Jonathan, St George's, Leeds
Coekin, Richard, Dundonald, Wimbledon
Cornes, Andrew, All Saints, Crowborough
Di Castiglione, Nigel, St Mary & All Saints, Trentham
Dobbie, Charles, Holy Trinity, Lyonsdown
Elliott, Nigel, St Thomas Kilnhurst/Area Dean
Espin-Bradley, Richard, St Luke, Wolverhampton
Farr, Dick, Henham, Ugley & Elsenham
Fletcher, Jonathan, Emmanuel, Ridgway
Gales, Simon, St John, Lindow
Ginn, David, St Andrews, Leyland
Guinness, Peter, St Thomas', Lancaster
Harcourt, Paul, All Saints, Woodford Wells, Essex
Hawkins, Clive, St Mary, Eastrop
Higgins, Rupert, Christ Church, Clifton
Hobbs, Chris, St Stephens, Selly Oak
Holloway, David, Jesmond parish church
James, Steve, Holy Trinity, Platt
Juckes, Jonny, St Andrew, Kirk Ella
Leggett, James, St James, Ryde
Lewis, Ian, St Bartholomews, Bath
Macleay, Angus, St Nicholas, Sevenoaks
Marnham, Charles, St Michael's, Chester Square
Marsden, Bob, Trinity Chapel, Buxton
McGinley, John, Holy Trinity with St John's, Hinckley
McNamara, Michael, St John's, Elmwell
Moulder, Ken, St Mark and Walkergate, Byker
Munro, Rob, St Mary, Cheadle
Paine, Alasdair, Christ Church, Westbourne
Palmer, Hugh, All Souls, Langham Place
Perkin, Paul, St Mark's, Battersea Rise
Perris, Martin, St Botolph, Barton Seagrave
Roberts, Vaughan, St Ebbe's, Oxford
Saxby, Martin, St Matthew with St Oswald, Rugby West
Simpson, Roger, St Michael le Belfry
Sizer, Stephen, Christ Church, Virginia Water
Taylor, Martyn, St George's, Stamford
Taylor, William, St Helen, Bishopsgate
Templeman, Peter, St Cuthberts, Peterlee
Thomas, Rod, St Matthew, Elburton
Tinker, Melvin, St John's, Newland Hull
White David, Holy Trinity, St Austell
Whybrow, Paul, St Olaf King and Martyr, Poughill
Wingfield Digby, Andrew, St Andrews, North Oxford
Wookey, Stephen, St David, Moreton-in-Marsh

...and there will be more, I am sure. If we wish to remain as English Catholics, under the ancient See of Canterbury, we must pray for the Synod this weekend that we are able to remain and set an example of fidelity and humility, as Christ commands us, by not schisming. Ut Unum Sint does not mean ''keep breaking away and say 'I'm the only one who is right'', it means to stay faithful, even when all around seems to be going to pot. The event yesterday was clearly intended as a rallying point, with theologian Jim Packer saying there was something "dispensable about the archbishop of Canterbury."It is not of the essence of Anglicanism to be in communion with him when he becomes part of the doctrinal problem. "Pray for the next archbishop and that he may be with us sooner than we might have thought."

This development is attacking the very heart of what it means to be an Anglican and be sure that if they become established (and do not themselves split, which is most likely, for in reality these are no better than the lunatic Wandering 'Bishops' of our jurisdiction, who sing High Mass to their cats in back bedrooms up and down the country) there will be no space whatsoever in their canon for Catholics. We are as anathema to them as they are to us. I feel, though, in this country, we will pretty much not notice what is going on, once the news value dies down. Some churches which we see as being Conservative Evangelical will have a new logo on their noticeboards, but that will be all and, once again, when have we ever modelled our thoughts on theirs before?

I repeat myself, quite sure of this. This is not an ecclesiastical schism, it is a clash of cultures, one fearful of modernity, the other not understanding what the other's fears are. One unable to express anxiety for the future as anything but anger. Desperate to blame someone for their state, the African Bishops have found Rowan Williams and have behaved in a barbaric and unChristian way, grabbing what they can before the tide turns again.