Romeward bound

Gender progress happened more quickly in the Church of England than you might think. The big battle was lost over 20 years ago, when Graham Leonard the Bishop of London lost the vote and the argument over Christ’s will and left for Rome soon afterwards. For the Irish, the battle lines can be confusing. At the height of the row, I remember Dr Leonard telling me his favourite church in Ireland was Derry Cof I cathedral because of those foundation links with the City of London and he intended to go on visiting it as a Catholic priest. Now as the Anglican split really looks about the happen, it’s a relief to realise that the steam has gone out virulent anti- ecumenism. If we were back in the days when specifically religious controversy was raging in Ireland. Paisley would be breathing fire. Today Paisley is silent. Now that a schism looks like actually happening, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a mild protest at the heart of the Papacy. The Vatican’s failure to consult him over welcoming Anglican arch-traditionalists into the Roman Catholic church “ put him in a awkward position.” Ouch Rowan, steady on!

He made a neat point though at an earlier Rome lecture.

Dr Williams boldly used the issue of the moment as his example – suggesting that it was the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women that was the bar to unity. “For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women.”

But none of this was said to the Pope’s face, where it was all cordiality and pectoral crosses.. This twenty minute encounter with the Pope changes nothing. Btw 20 or 30 mins is usual for a papal private audience. Nothing is ever rally discussed. Meanwhile, preparations to receive the new apostates into Rome’s bosom are going ahead untroubled by Rowan’s mild protest. Now may be the time to proclaim the virtues of Anglican toleration. If a Catholic woman fancies becoming a rector or a priest a married Dean, look no further. There are precedents in Ireland. It’s a fair swap. The alleged weakness of Anglicanism is its greatest strength. Plenty of bigotry remains but ecumenism will continue to flourish where it matters most, at the practical level. On matters of faith, they seem to be better at agreeing to differ without losing it altogether. Although an antique arrogance survives at the heart of the beleaguered institution, the old days of Roman supremacy will not return.

  • Padraig

    [b]Although an antique arrogance survives at the heart of the beleaguered institution, the old days of Roman supremacy will not return. [/b]

    Curious. The Anglican Communion has gone into Schism after Schism . this one involving thousands joining the Catholic Church. Yet, according to Brian it is the Catholic Church that is [b]’beleaguered'[/b].

    The Church maintains teachings going back for centuries and based on scripture and is labeled by Brian as [b]’arrogant'[/b]. I should have thought that in matters such as Gay ‘Rights’ the arrogant thing is to go against Scripture and the Traditional Teachings. Not only I but a huge number of Anglicans in Africa and elsewhere thing the same. That it is this arrogance that has caused the Schisms.

    I am a little surprised that Brian did not simply demand that Archbishop Rowan did not aim a Kung Fu kick at the Holy Fathers Head.

    Still the use of the words [b]’beleaguered'[/b] and [b]’arrogant'[/b] at the end of Brain’s article , bearing as they did no relation to anything at all he had previously written is as outre as painting a little , ‘No Pope Here’ sign in red, white and blue sign on a gable wall. It will do as Brian’s very own Kung Fu kick against the Whore of Babylon.

    Bless him.

  • abucs

    I would say that the development of an Anglican grouping to join the Catholic Church is hardly a dawn raid. As far back as a year ago the TAC made a public request for such measures to be put in place by the Catholic Church.

    With talks since and in fact much talk for many years beforehand, between traditional Anglicans and Catholics, the announcement by the Vatican was hardly a surprise.

    As far as “gender progress” :o) well i can understand a certain mindset looking at the issue as one of rights for women, but it is not looked at that way by many Catholics and Anglicans in the same way that married men not being eligible for priesthood in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is not looked at as some sort of rights denial for married men.

    I can understand the mindset that believes otherwise, but we are simply not on the same page in how we approach that question.

  • greagoir o frainclin

    Looks to me that the COE is in disarray…and continually fragmenting before our eyes. It’s function today in predominantly atheistic English life is only rose flowered wallpaper for archaic ceremonies of royalty etc…

    In anyway, based on the flimsy foundations of a kings demands for a divorce, the rock on which it is built was no more than sand.

    However we must be greatful for the Reformation, for it encouraged independant thinking and helped pave the way for the atheism we have today in the western world.

  • Brian Walker

    Greag, Yes of course there is fair amount of disarray within Anglicanism but it’s very toleration may save it. Not all Anglo-Catholics want to leave. The fact that it looks as if they must be received individually even while retaining some anglican liturgical practice etc, and not in a group package, may put some of them off. Padraig, I do understand matters of faith and teaching are involved that are beyond mere gender politics. But I’d defend “beleaguered” over abuse and sexuality, and the gap between what is practiced and preached.

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Em.

    I hope these “movers” to the Catholic Church can bring some common sense with them.

    The catholic church has to evolve or it will die and if it does not evolve it will deserve to die.

  • Padraig

    [b]I’d defend “beleaguered” over abuse and sexuality, and the gap between
    what is practiced and preached.[/b]

    The gap between what is practiced and what is preached is precisely what many Anglicans say is taking them out of the Anglican Communion.

    I am at a loss to understand the ‘link’ between sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the break up of the Anglican Communion.

    Sounds like sour , not to say bitter lemons to me. Or should I say bitter orange with a convenient tar brush.

    The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

    The mainstream media has all but ignored the recent Associated Press report that the three major insurance companies for Protestant Churches in America say they typically receive 260 reports each year of minors being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, staff, or other church-related relationships.

    In June 2007, the Associated Press revealed that three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in the US said they receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members. Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., which insure 165,495 churches for liability against child sex abuse, emphasized that their figures did not always specify which cases were against minors and added that not all allegations were followed by convictions or even investigations.

    National surveys by Christian Ministry Resources (CMR), a tax and legal-advice publisher serving more than 75,000 congregations and 1,000 denominational agencies, has also issued a report that found that child-abuse allegations against American Protestant churches averaged 70 per week since 1993, with a slight downward trend starting in 1997. The same report also found that among Protestant churches, volunteers are more likely than clergy or paid staff to be abusers.

    In 2002, Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, said in a sermon on Good Friday, “We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behaviour know no ecclesial or other boundaries.”

  • Padraig

    Nor of course is child abuse the preserve of the Protestant sects, for instance amidst Hassidic Jews:

    Four ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn have been sued or arrested for abusing boys in the past three years. That’s a tiny fraction of the actual abuse, says Hella Winston, author of Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels. She says that in researching her book, she encountered dozens of alleged victims who told her sexual abuse is an open secret in the Hasidic community. But the community is so insulated and the rabbis are so powerful that few dare to come forward.

    “If I become known as an informer, then people also won’t want to have anything to do with my family,” she explains. “They won’t want to marry my children, won’t want to give me a job. This is the fear.”

    But more and more accusations against rabbis have begun to circulate. Last August, politician and radio talk show host Dov Hikind devoted an hourlong program to sexual abuse. He interviewed Pearl Engelman, who spoke under an alias, about her son’s case. The calls flooded in. Hikind, who is an Orthodox Jew himself, represents this area in the New York Assembly. He says after the show, people started showing up at his office with their stories.

    “Fifty, 60, 70 people,” he says, “but you got to remember for each person who comes forward, God only knows how many people are not coming forward.” …”If you’re a pedophile, the best place for you to come to are some of the Jewish communities,” he says. “Why? Because you can be a pedophile and no one’s going to do anything. Even if they catch you, you’ll get away with it.”

  • Padraig

    ….and speaking of sexual abuse, the Church of England was itself, as Brendan Behan famously said, ‘Founded on the bollocks of Henry the 8th, the serial wife murderer, and psychopath,whose sexual exploits were only surpassed by later ‘Heads of the Church’ such as the Windsors such as Prince Charles who dumped the lovely Diana for greener and older fields….the apple, they say never falls far from the tree.

    People in glass houses…..

  • Mike


    You equate cheating on one’s wife with “sexual abuse”? Seriously?

  • greagoir o frainclin

    ….for they are all crimes in the eyes of God Mike! Surely you should know that.

  • Padraig

    I should say adultery might be one serious sin.

    Cutting thheir heads off to get them out of the road might be even more serious, wouldn’t you agree?

    Especially for the ‘Defender of the Faith’, serial woman killer and the Founder of the Church of England.

    Not that mass murder was the exclusive preserve of the gross wife killer, Henry.

    In the Penal Laws in Ireland, Promulgated by his murderous successors on the throne as, ‘Head of the Church of England’;

    Catholics were not permitted to keep school; to go beyond seas, or to send others thither, for education in the Romish religion. Intermarriage with Protestants was disallowed, in case of the possession of an estate in Ireland. Children of mixed marriages were always to be brought up in the Protestant faith.

    A “Papist” could not be guardian to any child, nor hold land, nor possess arms. He could not hold a commission in the army or navy, or be a private soldier. No Catholic could hold any office of honour or emolument in the state, or be a member of any corporation, or vote for members of the Commons, or, if he were a peer, sit or vote in the Lords. Almost all these personal disabilities were equally enforced by law against any Protestant who married a Catholic wife. It was a felony, with transportation, to teach the Catholic religion, and treason, as a capital offence, to convert a Protestant to the Catholic faith. The legislation devised for the Irish Catholics in that evil time was described by Burke as [b]”a machine as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man”.[/b]

  • I hope Canterbury will reciprocate Rome’s generous offer – feel free to take all you can, you can start immediately with the Bishop of Killaloe and his ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ ilk.

    In the liturgical and doctrinal chaos of the post-conciliar era, some traditionalist minded priests will be a breath of fresh air. I have been to Anglican churches in Scotland that used the 1962 Roman Missal (lamentably in the vulgar tongue), but the CoI, as I understand, is very low-church.

  • smcgiff

    ‘In the Penal laws…’

    Why stop there, why not trawl back to the Spanish Inquisition.

    And if you think the Catholic Church is not beleaguered then you better keep writing in Bold letters to convince yourself otherwise.

    Two good indicators for our delivery out of the spiritual Dark Ages…

    Continuing enlightenment overcoming generational brainwashing. Church attendances down, being more of a social occasion for the aged.

    Little or no ‘vocations’. Priests have lost huge amounts of respect and have gone from being one of the most important persons in a community to being a pariah. Plus loss of congregations mean loss of ching ching. It’s no longer a wise career move.

    Oh Happy Days!

  • Brian Walker

    Some great stuff here.. and just to add to it, here is an extract from a paper written in the 90s by the chap who is now the evangelical Bishop of Peterborough. It speaks for itself. The link to it comes in an Observer blog by religious commentator Andrew Brown…
    … who teases out the complexities of faction-fighting even in this mildest of faith communities.

    “To say that we are under God’s judgment may seem a bit strong to some, ridiculous to
    others. There is not time now to justify the assertion fully. I can only point to the fire at
    York Minster and its timing, the disastrous royal marriage saga … and the fire at
    Windsor, the resignation of the Bishop of Gloucester this year, the financial problems facing the Church Commissioners, and the 15% decline in the number of Church of England
    worshippers during the 1980s. Perhaps these and other matters can all be explained without
    reference to God or judgment: but I think not.”

    This man is serious and he has a vote in the House of Lords. For all I know he exercises it well and I sure he uses it sincerely.

  • joeCanuck

    Perhaps he needs to update his paper to include Katrina and New Orleans just to show that it’s not only England suffering God’s Wrath.

  • Padraig

    I think the English writer, GP Taylor, recently said it best:

    [i]”Like so many other Anglicans, I am at that place where I feel I must desert a sinking ship.”

    The former vicar of Cloughton, North Yorkshire, added: “The church I once loved has, on the whole, become the spiritual arm of New Labour. What the rank and file believes is truly not the same as the leadership.”

    He accused bishops of spending “more time preaching about climate change” than teaching the Gospel and also hit out at Dr Rowan Williams for how he had dealt with splits within the church: “Stupidly, the archbishop of Canterbury has tried to paper over the cracks and keep the church together. He should have had the courage to allow the church to become disestablished and split. The evangelicals, traditionalists and Anglo-Catholics could go one way and the Liberals the other.”[/i]

  • Paul O’Toole

    All I can see from both camps are a bunch of sad religionists struggling to come to terms with their increasing irrelevance to the rest of society. While they are busy arguing about whether or not to let women into their club the rest of the world is gazing blankly at them and wondering what all the fuss is about and when the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.

  • Padraig

    On the contrary,in the period from 1978 to 2004 Catholics in the world have undergone rapid growth, with a percentage increase of more than 45%. In that same span they increased overall from almost 757 millions to 1.098 billion, with an absolute increase of around 341 million faithful. The data, however, look very much less cheering if read in the light of the expansion of world population in the same period, going from 4.2 to 6.4 billion. It turns out, in fact, that the presence of Catholics at global level is in slight decrease, from almost 18% to little more than 17%.

  • borderline


    “Henry V111…. whose sexual exploits were only surpassed by later ‘Heads of the Church’ such as the Windsors such as Prince Charles”

    Tell you what a Phádraig,

    this lad would give Henry a run for his money……

  • Paul O’Toole

    Padraig, do those statistics show where the growth is taking place? I would suspect that most of it is in the third world.

    It would be interesting to see some unbiased statistics (if such a thing can ever exist!) of regular church attendances in the developed world, but regardless of the numbers who actually go to church or count themselves as catholic / anglican / other, the influence which the church once enjoyed has thankfully been reduced to almost nothing meaning that for the other 83% of the world they are to all intents and purposes entirely irrelevant.

  • Padraig

    In fact Church attendance here, in the British occupied six north eastern counties, at 45% every Sunday is far higher than anywhere in the United Kingdom or in the Liberated 26 counties.

    Also since the shit has hit the economic fan Church attendance has sky rocketed.

    Superficial, snide pundits from the Emperor Nero the the Emperor Napoleon on to Joe Stalin have forecast the end of the Church. The worms are crawling out their dead ears, the One , True, Catholic and Apostolic Church continues to flourish, thank God.

  • Padraig

    ….and of course, with an annual increase of one quarter per cent per year in the Catholic population per year here in the six counties, we will have our very own little Vatican here in our very own wee province in the not so distant future.

    Thank God and all thats Holy and Ulster, with all its might shall give her heart to Rome.

    Praise you Jesus!! Alleulia!! Amen

  • Yani

    There must be something pretty sick at the core of the Roman church if the comments here are representative of the loving Christians it produces.

  • Padraig

    I’m sorry if I offended you Yari.

    Thank goodness the constant snide remarks about child abuse in the Catholic Church by friend Brian and others don’t turn you’re stomach. But I guess its only uppitty Teagues offend you…right?

  • Restu

    Just when you least expect it………the Spanish Inquisition!

  • Yani

    Who is “Yari”? And what the hell are “Teagues”?

  • Padraig

    This Protestant place was built by sectarian consensus and it is currently falling to sectarian consensus.

    That’s the simple reality. Its a religious head count. Nothing else really matters. He who built by the sectarian head count will fall to the sectarian head count.

    It seems fitting

  • Daisy

    Just what the catholic church needs – more intolerants joining.