Letters to the editor



From Fr Edwin Butcher

As ever, the cover photograph for the July issue of ND was very good, but may I make a suggestion? As sad as we all are at the direction our beloved Church of England is going, especially in the gloom of the Motions passed by last month’s session of General Synod, let us see the ‘starting again’ not as a new dawn for the innovators and a sunset for us traditionalists but rather as the reverse – a new dawn for us and a sunset for the innovators.

We may not like what is happening and we may not get all that we want out of the mess we are in. But let us have confidence in the Lord our God and his good providence.

We have the assurance that the gates of hell will not stand against the Church. We cannot see for sure the final end yet (though we may have a good idea of it) but I for one am confident that God will always do what is best for his Church, even if that means letting a part of it wither on the vine and raising another from the ruins.

We who hold fast to the deposit of faith handed down to us can only by grace go ever onwards and upwards – but those who reject it have nowhere to go but ever backwards and…

Edwin Butcher

23 Quarry Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Not intact

From Fr David Sutton ssc

30Days (ND July) refers us to the report of the Daily Record about three Scottish sisters insuring their virginity against the second coming of the Messiah. Unfortunately they (or the newspaper concerned) have made the common mistake of confusing the virginal with the immaculate conception.

As might be expected, the insurance company has found a loophole to avoid paying out. For in the event of one of the said ladies needing to claim on the policy, it may be easier for her to prove her virginity than to prove that she is without sin!

David Sutton

Winton Vicarage, Eccles, Manchester

What is unworthiness?

From Mr Richard North

I am grateful to the Bishop of Dudley for his thoughtful and charitable article in July’s issue. However his reference to Article XXVI leaves me anxious to clarify one issue.

Article XXVI speaks ‘Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers’ and refers to ‘their wickedness’ and to them as ‘evil men’. The wording of the Article seems to rule out its application to a situation where the validity of a minister’s Orders are in doubt. It has never been my view that women, because they are women, are thereby unworthy to be ordained to the presbyterate or episcopate. I know of no reason for supposing that women are more inclined to wickedness than men.

My doubts spring from the perceptions that Holy Orders are a gift of the Lord to his whole Church, not merely a human institution. For this reason it is not clear that a local church has the authority to initiate a major change in the use of those Orders. In this connection, Article XXXIV ‘Of the Traditions of the Church’ may be relevant in setting out what has hitherto been the traditional teaching on the authority of a ‘particular or national church’.

Certain aspects of Anglican history may be relevant. At the Reformation, the CofE initiated changes in broadly two categories. The first comprised changes which were actually reversions to the practice of earlier times, and to what was still current practice in the East; such as communion in both kinds, the translation of both Scripture and liturgy into the common tongue, the removal of compulsory clerical celibacy, the abolition of indulgences. These changes appear to have stood the test of time, and I know of no demand for their reversal.

The second category involved radical departures from the established traditions of the Church; such as the dissolution of religious communities, the destruction of shrines, the cessation of pilgrimages, the abolition of Holy Week ceremonies. In the course of time, all these changes have been reversed, not by a few individuals of an archaic mindset, but as the result of widespread movements within the Church.

In the light of this experience, we are entitled to wonder how the ordination of women, to the presbyterate or the episcopate, will be viewed in, say, two hundred years from now.

Richard North

11 Larkfield Road, Farnham, Surrey

House colours

From Fr William Davage SSC

It is uncharacteristic for 30Days to be so mischievous as to suggest that the Sacristans of Pusey House and other distinguished pilgrims at Walsingham should be sporting the colours of Germany. They were, of course, wearing the new Pusey House tie in the Pusey House colours of red (for the Passion of Our Lord), gold (for his Resurrection) and black (in mourning for the demise of the Church of England).

The limited edition is now sold out but if there is a market from readers of ND for another batch, we might be persuaded. I enclose a photograph of Dr Pusey sporting House colours.

William Davage

Custodian of the Library, Pusey House, Oxford OX1 3LZ

Nail those colours

From Mr Philip Corbett stm

Despite the negative spin placed on the decisions made at General Synod this July by some of the leadership of our constituency it would seem there is still much to play for. Many young traditionalists hope that a solution will be found that will allow them to remain in the church of their baptism and upbringing. Whilst there is much they can do themselves, they rely heavily on those who lead our constituency to fight for us all.

It is disheartening when those who have the trust of so many placed in them are seen to be giving up the fight, or to be not as dedicated to the work of securing a future for traditionalists as they might be. Is it not time for those senior clerics who would claim to be part of the traditionalist constituency to speak up in our defence? I know there are many bishops, archdeacons and canons in our dioceses and cathedrals who no doubt support the work of Forward in Faith with their prayers.

As we reach this crunch time for the Church of England I hope and pray they will have the courage to support the call for a third province in their words and actions. If they choose not to support the work of the traditionalist constituency then they must say so; and allow their faithful people to look elsewhere for guidance and counsel as they seek to move forward in faith.

Philip Corbett

Sacristan, Pusey House, Oxford

Get a move on

From Mr Roland Morant

Am I being too harsh in my criticism of Forward in Faith just now when I ask whether it has lost its sense of direction? To many supporters of FiF, when the Guildford Report was published last February it seemed obvious that TEA would be unworkable when women bishops were introduced. For FiF subsequently to cooperate with Guildford/Gloucester in trying to improve TEA would have been, not to put too fine a point on it, a waste of time. And so it has proved.

We understand that General Synod has entrusted a new legislative body with putting forward some alternative solutions to the main problem which is to accommodate traditionalists within a women bishops’ setup, a task described by the Archdeacon of Pontefract as ‘a brief from hell’.

Will Forward in Faith quietly await the deliberations of this legislative body, and will it then react sotto voce to the solutions when they are published? Surely, the time has come when, instead of responding to events, Forward in Faith must state unambiguously where it stands and what it proposes to do.

At this stage of discussion within the church, it seems that there are two possibilities. Either traditionalists have to accept that there is no future for them in the Church of England other than to concur with the views of the dominant majority, or insist that a free and independent province is made their home.

Notwithstanding the legal difficulties of implementing such a province, I believe the time has come for FiF to make it quite clear to the leadership of the CofE what it intends to do. Nothing less will satisfy our membership.

Roland W. Morant


Asking questions

From Mr John Pope

I crave your assistance as the only monthly magazine sent to all members of General Synod. At the York Group of sessions just gone only 40 questions were answered in the hall, a large fall from days gone by. However questions 44 and 45 and the answer given by the Archbishop of York which I copy below beg a supplementary also below and I invite the Archbishop to reply through your columns.

Question 44: How many of the group of senior women clergy and lay people invited to the recent annual Bishops’ Meeting were known to have theological reservations about the ordination of women to the episcopate? Question 45: What was the rationale behind the invitation to the leaders of the Watch and Affirming Catholicism groupings within the General Synod to attend the annual Bishops’ Meeting and not the leaders of other groupings within the Synod?

Answer by the Archbishop of York: ‘With permission I should like to reply to both Mr Pope’s questions together. The Standing Committee of the House agreed to a request from women who had attended a Windsor Consultation on 13 March on Collegiality and Authority, concerning issues surrounding the preparation of legislation on the ordination of women to the episcopate, that they also take part in the discussion within the Bishops’ Meeting on these matters. The invitation was made in the knowledge that the Windsor group – consisting of senior women such as deans, archdeacons, and some leading lay figures – was supportive of women bishops, but the objective was that their particular perspective be voiced within that phrase of the discussion. Many other viewpoints were already present within the ranks of the Bishops’ Meeting, including those of a number of bishops who could not accept the ministry of women priests or bishops. The committee also agreed to an invitation being extended to Cardinal Kasper to address the same meeting (and women visitors). Both elements enriched the bishops’ discussion and helped foster greater understanding of opposing points of view.’

Supplementary: In view of the large majority in the Bishops’ Meeting known to be in favour of this innovation of women in the episcopate was the invitation to some 20 leading proponents an attempt to overwhelm those bishops opposed to this measure?

John Pope

6 Hawthylands Road, Hailsham, Sussex BN27 1EU

Elusive sounds

From Mr R. House

Regarding Barry Orford’s plea for Ronald Corp to record Sullivan’s ‘Haddon Hall’ (July music review) might I draw his attention to a fine recording of this remarkable work produced by the Prince Consort of Edinburgh a few years ago, and which may still be available. On the Divine Art label 2-1201, it is well worth tracking down.

R. House

28 Windsor Crescent, Whitley Bay

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