A new resolution to work together has come over the General Synod. The vote in November to move forward with the legislation was however only a procedural motion; by voting for the motion to proceed the Catholic Group in the Synod was not saying that it supported the creation of women bishops nor was it saying its members would vote yes or abstain in a final debate (to do so would be impossible given the theological conviction that says we do not believe that women can be ordained to the episcopate). Rather, the Catholic Group was saying that they want to move forward so that this situation can be sorted out. They, and we, want to work with this legislation to ensure the best possible legislation for the Church of England so that, as Archbishop Rowan Williams said, all sides in the Church can be happy.
This will be a difficult year for the Catholic Group and for those who represent us on the General, Diocesan and Deanery Synods. Our representatives need our prayers and our support. We must also continue to gather around the bishops of The Society in all that they do. Under the leadership of the Bishop of Pontecract they are working together to strengthen our constituency and our shared life together. This will mean all of us working more closely together – the Catholic Societies and Trust, our parishes and institutions. None of this can be artificially created by the General Synod or at Church House for us; we need to come together and live out our faith, united and firm in our commitment to mission in this land as members of the Church of the England.
Thus in 2014 we do need to commit to working more closely together and supporting one another. We can do this financially, both as individuals and organizations, but most importantly we can do it through the ways in which we work for the mission of the church. We must be clear in our financial support for our constituency. That may mean joining Forward in Faith or supporting the Catholic Societies; it also means supporting the parishes of our constituency so that they can continue to minister to the people of this land. Our parishes need to be places of excellence in mission and pastoral care, as well as places where God is worshipped in the beauty of holiness.
We should also take every opportunity to tell people about what is going on in our parishes. We should ensure our events are not only featured in the new newspaper Together, but also in diocesan magazines and newspapers up and down the country. Do not be afraid to tell people about all that we do. We need to be out and about in the Church of England. As we go to press I have just seen a poster for the visit of Our Lady of Walsingham to Guildford Cathedral on 22 February. It is to be hoped as many of our parishes as are able will journey to the Cathedral to spend a day with Mary. It is vital in these difficult days that we gather together to worship God, to pray for one another and to offer support. It is clear from reading reports that ‘The Vision Glorious’ festival in Wakefield Cathedral offered much encouragement to people in the Northern Province. It would be wonderful to see a national celebration on a grand scale to show our commitment to the future of the church.
Very often on these pages, and more so, it is to be hoped, on the pages of the new newspaper, there are advertisements for events taking place across the country. Very often they are organized by some of the smaller Catholic Societies such as the Society of King Charles the Martyr or the Ecumenical Friends of Fatima Association. These groups deserve our support, so if you are free on 30 January why not go to the Banqueting House in London and pray for the Church of England in that wonderful setting? Or if you feel like going further afield, book to travel to Fatima with the Ecumenical Friends (or attend their festival in September). These are two very different expressions of our Catholic identity, but they represent the richness of the Catholic movement and both very much deserve our support. We can only hope to thrive and offer the stability and security for future generations in the Church of England if we are willing to work together for that common aim. It is a task we have been set and we must not fail. As we move forward together all eyes will be on us to see what we do with the provision we are given (if the final vote passes) and how we create a future within the Church of England.ND
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