letters to the editor
From the Bishop of Dover
As always, Gerry O'Brien's account [ND March] of the debate about parsonages in Februarys Synod is readable and helpful. However, I must take issue with him when he says, "The platform had clearly misread the mood of the church and promptly withdrew their proposals to set up diocesan parsonages boards.' Nobody 'misread the mood of the church', least of all me!
Last year, Synod themselves asked us to prepare detailed legislation, including the proposals to move the ownership of parsonages to a Parsonages Board. This we did, and Synod were thereby given the freedom to decide whether or not to accept those proposals.
After a robust debate, Synod decided to leave things as they are, and, when that had been decided, agreed with me that there was no point in setting up Parsonage Boards only to deal with houses already owned by the diocese.
Finally, Gerry tells us that what is left is Tittle more than common tenure'. Several Synod debates and many consultations across the country have shown that the vast majority of people, lay and ordained, believe that Common Tenure and all that goes with it will be hugely beneficial to all clergy. I totally agree with them.
* Stephen Venner
The Bishop's Office, Old Palace,
Canterbury CT1 2EE
Rome not always right
From Fr Graham Smith ssc
Fr Pinnock's article 'A Spoonful of Honey' [ND February] seems rather at odds with the efforts currently being made by Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group on General Synod to secure the continuity of Catholic Orders by the provision of a separate episcopal jurisdiction within a sacramentally divided CofE, part of which will have women bishops.
Certainly the 'advent of women bishops will signal the end of Catholic life' in the larger part of the CofE but not all of it, nor the larger part of the Anglican Communion. And if we do not believe that this will be true, then what are we fighting for?
The problem about Rome's attitude towards Anglican Orders is that it has signally failed to seek the truth through dialogue and prayer. Apostolicae Curae is a flawed document which contained serious errors and omissions, not least in the critical matter of 'intention, and this is why it lacks any real authority. If Pope Leo XIII had been serious about truth he, of necessity, would have invited the CofE to dialogue with him about holy orders.
The fact that Rome has never officially answered Saepius Officio not only shows a lack of fraternal courtesy but also demonstrates that truth was not Apostolicae Curae's purpose.
Subsequently, as most know, our apostolic succession has been reinforced by the Old Catholic succession and Rome has had ample opportunity to review Apostolicae Curae. Such a review, of course, would have been embarrassing as it would have exposed its errors and thereby undermined the authority of other papal pronouncements including Humanae Vitae.
I believe that the reconciliation of Anglican and Roman orders needs a much more imaginative approach than mass 're-ordination which is inappropriate to corporate reunion. The withdrawal of Apostolicae Curae would be a good start just as a 'separate episcopal jurisdiction' to ensure the continuation of Catholic Orders in the CofE would be another.
Subsequently, serious dialogue with Rome can take place but dialogue assumes both parties are open to see their past errors and genuinely seek unity in truth together. I continue to live in that hope.
The Priest's House, Magdalen Lane,
Christchurch BH23 1PH
From Fr Christopher Kinch ssc
I read with great interest George Austin's article 'Battle for the Bible' [ND March] and was alarmed to hear of the reductionist outlook taken by Canon Draper concerning the authority of the Bible upon matters of the Church and its teaching. If a fairly senior cleric seems to have lost confidence in the Scriptures, what hope is there for the rest of the world?
It is hardly helpful to the mission of the Church if we shoot ourselves in the foot by not taking the authority of the Scriptures seriously. I for one do not find the authority of the Bible infantilizing; on the contrary, as somebody with a deep faith in Scripture as the inspired word of God, I find it truly liberating! Christopher Kinch
From Fr Ian Wetmore
As a mission-minded Anglo-Catholic priest, I feel hard-pressed to find any good stuff on evangelization which may be helpful in my parochial situation. I don't know about the UK, but here in North America, what one mostly sees is material geared toward the evangelical hard-sell approach of 'making a decision for Christ' (and another notch in the evangelist's belt).
What we need is solid Catholic help in presenting the Gospel and pointing people to the Church and to the Altar, where Christ is present among us, and subsequently upward to where he is enthroned. I was thrilled to discover Foundations of Faith, and even more thrilled at how it appealed to people seeking a follow-up to the basic Christianity that Alpha offers.
We need still more good Catholic evangelistic stuff in the parishes to help us carry on the Church's mission locally. Lots of folks talk about it, but a websearch turns up little. Thus I was encouraged upon reading Fr Digby Anderson's piece ('Household of Faith') and the anonymous ordinand's piece ('Serving All My Days'), both in the March ND, in which they talk about this very thing.
But really there seems to be little on offer even in ND, though there's lots of criticism and blame-laying all round as to what other people have done that defeats our evangelistic purpose. I say, less dwelling on how others are working against us, and more on how we can succeed in making disciples in spite of the counter-productivity of synods, bishops, revisionists, et al.
Gainsayers we will always have with us (like the poor), and against us. But the Gospel must be proclaimed in every and any way we can.
Letters for publication should be sent to: The Editor New Directions 2A The Cloisters, Gordon Square London WC1H OAG
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