We began with escape clauses; perhaps the C of E will still do the decent thing? Perhaps the Holy Father’s offer will get Synod trumping it by giving us a Free Province? Even as this was being said, I watched a squadron of blue pigs performing aerobatics round the ceiling of the Assembly Hall. We soon came down to reality; the reality of a Church of England hell-bent on ridding itself of dissenters like us. They have offered us nothing, nor will they.
Blogmaster General and Regional Dean for Scotland, Fr Len Black SSC, preparing to put us on air as the Assembly gathers in Westminster: on the wall behind him the words (which became almost the motto of the Assembly) "He hath put a New Song into my Mouth".
Then, on Saturday afternoon, my spirits were restored. Four young men addressed us, two already ordained, two preparing for ordination. One of the ordinands is soon to be married; the other had hoped that one day he might be married; but it was not a near prospect, and that might mean he would have to remain single in the Ordinariate. All of them are ready and eager for us to press ahead, as a body, and seek corporate re-union with the Holy See, whatever the personal cost to them or their families – and the cost will necessarily be greater than to any of us older clergy and lay people..
On Sunday I was with a faithful congregation in Porstmouth, facing the prospect next month of another interregnum because of the illness of their priest. They were concerned, of course, about the future; but they were also thrilled at the prospect of becoming what they had always wanted to be, Anglicans in full communion with the Holy See.
I also heard this weekend of the death of two friends; Fr John Heidt, whose son Michael had been at St Stephen’s House when I was Principal there; and Fr John Davis, who had taught Old Testament (and a great deal more, such as the delights of Lamb in Gin) to a succession of ordinands. It is as though their lives are laid on the altar as an offering for the Unity of the Church. May they rest in peace.
Of course it is a confusing time, full of ‘what if’s’ and ‘shall we be able?’. But it is a also for me a time of huge hope, for a reunion to which I so long looked forward but never thought I would live to see. Thanks be to God!
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