COMMENT SEPTEMBER 1997
This month marks the last appearance of New Directions in The Church
of England Newspaper. No-one in the traditionalist constituency, the
original integrity, should underestimate what this relationship has
meant to us. In the wake of November 1992 the then Editor, John Martin,
out of a sense of justice and fair play, offered us a place to continue
the debate - so vital to the process of reception. For this he took
a great deal of criticism and abuse. Under his successor, Colin Blakely,
though establishment opposition has been less shrill, it has diminished
little.
In all that time - nearly five years - the CEN has courageously defended
our freedom to write and speak on the issues confronting the church.
During that time we have grown from a four page supplement to a fully
fledged 32 page national magazine with an additional circulation three
quarters the size of CEN’s own. New Directions also goes to every
diocesan Bishop and every member of General Synod. It is required
reading in Church House and increasingly requested by other parts
of the Anglican Communion.
None of this would have been possible but for the initiative and courage
of CEN.
At the beginning of the summer our mutual discussions, always absolutely
candid and good humoured, concluded that on all sorts of levels, it
was time to take the next logical step to full independence. This
was the challenge and ambition laid before us by John Martin in early
1993 when the original editorial board was wrestling with the logistics
of filling a 4 page supplement!
Our thanks go to CEN for the initiative, encouragement and, yes, tolerance
that have allowed us to make it thus far. We wish them well and are
grateful for their good wishes.
If you receive New Directions free with CEN we hope you will want
to keep on reading “The magazine the Bishops have to read” as one
senior Bishop described it.
In order to encourage you we are making a very special offer to CEN
readers (Details on the insert). We look forward to your company in
the year ahead.
-ooo00O00ooo-
Christina Rees, spokesman for “Watch” (Women and The Church), is preparing
a report on the activities of the Flying Bishops.
She accuses them of overstepping their remit, encouraging parishes
to go traditionalist and proselytising for their beliefs. She wants
the Bishops phased out and a stop to any attempt to change the Church’s
mind on the issue of women priests. Mrs Rees has a short memory.
1. The Provincial Episcopal Visitors were part of a minimal settlement
granted to convince the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament that
schism could be avoided and thousands of loyal Anglicans would not
be constructively dismissed from their parish churches while the feminist
experiment was conducted.
2. We are in a “Process of Reception” on the issue of women priests.
Presumably this means it could go either way. As the Episcopal bench
is now almost entirely in agreement with Mrs. Rees, and with each
appointment more so, surely she does not fear the charismatic power
of three elderly overworked suffragans.
3. Those who have been able to opt for the pastoral care of the Flying
Bishops are unlikely to want to return to the old system however personally
pleasant the diocesan.
These men have provided a model of orthodox teaching, spiritual encouragement
and New Testament pastoral care that most clergy simply dream about.
The fact is that a substantial portion of the Church of England was
not happy with the 1992 Synod decision but remained quiet. A good
number of those who hoped it was right are less and less convinced.
Both groups are gradually beginning to make their voices heard.
If Mrs. Rees really wants to see Bishops overstepping their remit
or proselytising their views she should be in a traditionalist parish
during an interregnum or spend a week with the wife of an orthodox
priest.
-ooo00O00ooo-
As we go to press the nation is waking to the tragic news of the 
death of Princess Diana and her companions.
By the time you read this issue millions of words will have been written
about the remarkable achievements of her often tragic and all too
brief life. Prayers will have been offered throughout the land for
the repose of their souls and for the families in mourning.
For Diana, that family will not just be the Spencers and the Windsors
but all the people of these islands whose hope it had been, since
that far off summer of 1981, that she would, one day, be our queen.
That dream was dimmed by the rejection of divorce and is now extinguished
by death.
As a family, our nations hearts turn to her sons whose own short lives
have known sorrow and now heartbreak. Let us as church and nation
bind round them in prayer and loyalty and love and, pray God that,
when their day comes to serve the people, some of that extraordinary
compassion and love that was their mother’s special gift will be the
hallmark of their sovereignty.

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