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.
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.
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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