Friday, 11 July 2008

More Hope : Less Despair.

High Mass at Staincliffe.

I am not sure how appropriate it is that my first offering to this venerable site should take the form of an email. But since I believe quite strongly about its subject, and since many people reading it are of a like mind to those to whom the email was sent, I wondered whether I might be forgiven for putting it here. It is about Hope.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Please forgive this email but I wanted to share with you something I found to be a positive experience, in what has not been seen to be a very positive week. I met a senior non-Episcopal clergyman today. He hails from a liberal catholic position. He is in favour of women's ordination, not least to the episcopate. Although he is not a member of Synod, he expressed in no uncertain terms his dismay at the goings on there.

I was very heartened by what he said to me. He firmly believes that the Church of England should be just that: a church in which all are welcomed. That means that catholics should not 'merely have an honoured place at the table but an equal one' (his words). He also said that a Code of Practice would not do, since Bishops would not adhere to it (which given his position was very honest.) Nothing less than provision enshrined in law would be satisfactory.

He, and fellow liberals are very worried about the way the church is going. By being so unkind to the Anglo Catholic wing, it is becoming more exclusive - which is wholly illiberal. He is worried that without the Catholics, the C of E would become a 'Protestant sect' (again his words). No doubt part of what they fear is that with us out of the way, the Evangelical mainstream that would be left would turn on them.

I tell you this, since it is a good indication of what the real liberals (as opposed to the militant Liberals with capital L) think and I believe that we must now engage with them, since they could turn out to be our helpers. I know that Bishop John Packer in Ripon and Leeds is wanting to set up some dialogue between the parties. I think that we all should try and do the same where we are.

Again and again I have heard how so many people, not of the Catholic persuasion, are very angry about how Synod behaved, echoing the reaction of the Bishop of Dover. I think that we have a lot of sympathy and good will at the moment and we must capitalize on it! Please let's engage with that, and not declare war. For if we do, we will lose.

I really do believe that there is hope. But we must take the opportunity, and not sit licking our wounds or go on about Uniate Churches. I want to be a Catholic Anglican, not a second rate Roman: so do most of you: so do virtually all of our people. Let holy charity our outward vesture be. If it is, God will provide!
Every Blessing,

Some of you may not agree with me; but some of you will. And let us remember that desperation literally means a lack of hope (from the Latin de-spero) which is of course a sin. Let us also remember that we saw God as he was, broken on the Cross, which in the sight of this world was a defeat, but in the sight of God was victory. Let the cross be our standard.