Wednesday 29 September 2010

Trying to be Helpful

Expensive business, getting to London for Synods and Committees. Just occasionally there is a bonus spin-off; the Royal Academy provided it yesterday, with its wonderful exhibition from Budapest. After a Church Union committee meeting, Jane and I met and spent a couple of hours in the RA. The Goya young girl used in their publicity poster (above) is wonderful. There is also some magnificent Church art, much of it collected by the Esterhazys.

There was, though, one later painting which particularly caught my eye. It is by Philip de Laszlo, a portrait of Pope Leo XIII. Now we have a new society, named after those two great Romanisers, SS Wilfrid and Hilda. Why not add this great Pope, progenitor of Apostolicae Curae, as a third patron? He would sit very well with the other two Saints. You can't say I don't try to be helpful.

And if you possibly can, get to the Royal Academy to see the Treasures from Budapest. Perhaps you could squeeze a visit in during the Forward in Faith Assembly?
It is a large exhibition: a smaller one at the V&A might appeal:
Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel 8 September – 17 October 2010
Free ticketed admission - pre-booking is strongly advised as ticket numbers are limited

The tapestries are displayed alongside the full-size designs for them – the famous Raphael Cartoons. This is the first time that the designs and tapestries have been displayed together –something Raphael himself never witnessed. The tapestries have not been shown before in the UK. More details on the website of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Watch it!

Chichester explains

I never thought I would say it, but WATCH (Women Against the Church, or some such thing) have written something sensible. Mind you, it comes in the midst of a deal of rubbish about how Hilda of Whitby would have really been ordained and so on; still, credit where it is due, when it comes to writing about the 'Society Model' they are almost as accurate as Fr Hunwicke. This is what they wrote:-

'The “Society model” (which this proposal seems to embody), was discussed in depth by the Revision Committee when it looked at how best to provide for those who would not accept women as bishops. It was rejected because, ‘Crucially the majority of us came to believe that there was some risk of creating a society that was an even weightier body than a Diocese. This was because some of the representations made to us seemed to envisage that jurisdiction would in some way be conferred on the society itself and through it to its bishops… we therefore voted by 11 votes to 7 that we did not wish the draft Measure to be amended to give effect to a society model.’ (Report of the Revision Committee, page 22 paras 110, 115)'

Now Fr Houlding, at least, knows all this, because he made the report which the Revision Committee threw out. So why was he supporting it (albeit very luke-warmly) at the "Sacred Synod" last week?

(rt)The Bishop of Ebbsfleet enthralled by Fr Houlding's defence of the Society Model

BTW, is it only me who thinks of Christine Keeler when they say "Society Model" ?

Monday 27 September 2010

Bishop Andrew hits the spot

+ Fulham (l) and + Richborough (r) attentive to Bishop Andrew

Once again, it seems to me that Bishop Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet) has succinctly discovered the weakness of those labouring to delay or undermine the Ordinariate. He wrote this in response to a posting on the Anglo-Catholic, but rather than giving you the labour of seeking that out, here is what he said:

"Fr Tomlinson's mistaking of the source of the press release, corrected by Fr Marsden, and the postal address of the Society being the same as FiF's encourages me to pass on the questions asked by some groups at the Ebbsfleet Lay Conference on Saturday 25th September. Isn't FiF the very Society we need and which we have already got? There were reminiscences of the language of 'seizing' what is not granted and 'our bishops' consecrating new bishops over the border. Why would FiF, re-inventing itself under new episopal leadership – the Society's named bishops, including the chairman of FOAG, instead of the 'old guard' of Fulham and PEVs – and called a 'Society' succeed now at 'seizing' where it previously failed? This is what the laity asked.
My own reflection is that when Bishop Mark talked at the Sacred Synod of a Society 'within the Church' he put his finger on the trojan which may destroy this project. 'Within the Church' means interchangeability of sacraments and ministers, dependence on a parent model. It is exactly the difficulty of those issues which has led the Church of England to reject traditionalists' proposals six times (Guildford, Gloucester-Guildford, Manchester Group, Synod 2008, Revision Committee, Synod 2010) and I don't think the Society proposal disguises the difficulties sufficiently to allow traditionalists proposals to slip through the seventh time round.
I offered a paper on the various solutions, including the Society model, five years ago and I discussed it then with bishops, including both archbishops (one of whom was a bishop at the time in the area Ebbsfleet serves), and subsequently by some of those on the Revision Committee. The problem then -and ever since – has been the same old issues of interchangeability of sacraments and ministers and relationship with the parent body.
My own conclusion is that those Anglicans who are not convinced by the ministry of Peter – beautifully proclaimed in the visit of the Holy Father to the UK this month – should remain with the untidiness of Anglicanism and relate to the rest of the Anglican world as they are directed to by bishops and synods – for that is the Anglican system. Those who accept the ministry of Peter should accept his warm welcome into full communion, a welcome re-iterated in the published speech to the Catholic bishops at Oscott College. There are two routes: one for groups ('the caravan') and the other for individuals journeying alone ('solo swimmers'). Despite press excitement, we have no timetable as yet for the first – though there are groups preparing themselves – and the second route is always available and is even open, at present, for married priests, though whether that would continue alongside an Ordinariate provision we have yet to discover.
We must not rain on each other's parades but there is much work to be done by the Society of Wilfred and Hilda before it is self-evident that it is viable. And it does need to be clear about its attitude to the Holy See and Anglicanorum Coetibus. Several have pointed out that both Wilfrid and Hilda were zealous supporters of bringing a fragmented British Christianity into a proper relationship with Roman conventions and the Latin Church. Is that its aim or among its objectives?

Sunday 26 September 2010

Hither and Yon

I abandoned the 'Sacred Synod' on Friday before it ended; to get home to welcome four dinner guests. When they left I posted a blog for the Anglo-Catholic
(it seems to have caused a little interest), packed for the weekend, and went to bed a little after midnight. At seven am on Saturday we were on the road to Bury St Edmunds, where I was honoured to preach for the Revd Dr Michael Peel's 5oth anniversary of priesting.
Fr Peel was on good form

Jane had found the journey rather tiring
Michael, when I first met him, was Warden of the Homes of St Barnabas in Sussex, but he already had a long and distinguished parochial ministry behind him. Also behind him, as ever, was his wife Daloni - their Golden Wedding is in two years' time.

Their sons and families supported them, as did many old friends. Fr David Palmer (now a Catholic Priest) gave one of the speeches; another was by a former Curate, Fr John Sclater (left), now a Priest Vicar of Wells Cathedral. Fr Michael himself celebrated the Mass in time-honoured Prayer Books style (albeit with Incense and some modest ceremonial).

At the end of Mass

Fr Peel's wife, Daloni (rt), welcomed guests to the after-Mass drinks at the back of Church.

The Church of St Peter, Thurston, is a large imposing East Anglian edifice; its tower fell dramatically in the 19th Century, demolishing the greater part of the nave. Amazingly, within eighteen monthsof the disaster it was completely rebuilt!

After a great reception we drove southeast into Essex from Suffolk, to the parish of Thorpe-le-Soken. There Fr Jeremy Dowding was in mid-festival, and we joined the parish that evening for a marvellous concert - the outstandingly good Tenor, Andrew Bain, had been a chorister at St Peter's and like his fellow artist the Soprano Natasha Shipp, gave his services freely to the Church, as did also their accompanist Helen Allison.

The party that followed the concert went on in the Vicarage until three am. Jane and I made our excuses and retired around midnight. On Sunday morning, I preached at a confirmation when the one Candidate, Patricia, was supported by her daughter and grand-daughter.

It was a lovely occasion, in the church decked with flowers and produce for Harvest, and there was a large congregation. In the past year the regular communicant numbers has grown by around twenty - while all around churches are in decline. We were joined for lunch in a nearby pub by Fr Jeremy and his wife and four of his leading parishioners. When we made our getaway in mid-afternoon we headed into torrential rain and traffic returning from other weekend jollifications, so it took us four hours to cover the 190 miles home. So much for retirement - but I would sooner wear out than just rust away. You might like one or two pictures from the weekend. Below is the 16th Century tower of Our Lady and St Michael, Thorpe-le-Soken; most of the rest of the church is 19th Century rebuild.