Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Blogday 2021: Seen and not heard

It's rather a novelty actually writing something down for this blogling, at the moment, that is neither a sermon nor a video. Making short videos is somewhat easier now because they take less time to do and, with my workload increasing, perhaps I am taking the easy option.

Here it is, nonetheless, the sixteenth birthday of this blog. It's a significant year because it marks ten years since I left the CofE and found the ACC in which I think I have flourished ever since. In those ten years, both I and the CofE have changed markedly. I have been able to study properly now, not just get a pat on the head from the established training programmes for being inclusive of diverse "traditions" within the established church. My conclusion has been that the G3 - i.e. the Continuing Anglican bodies that are pursuing organic unity - are true and rightful inheritors of the Oxford Movement and that they form true and orthodox Catholicism in the Anglican heritage which the Tractarians rediscovered and which the modern CofE has sold for a mess of pottage. I am grateful to Presiding Bishop Chandler Jones of the ACA for reminding me that Fr Alfred Patten foresaw the need for the Continuing Anglican Church.

That need has been proved correct. The CofE has shown itself to be a Congregational body in all but name. Now, I am not saying that Congregational churches are necessarily wrong but rather they demonstrate a lack of Catholic cohesion and a marked temptation to believe what they want. It's healthy that no two parishes are the same but it's when they are doctrinally different that problems arise. As Prof Craig Paterson reminded me, if everyone says they are eating different things, can anyone be eating the same meal. Sometimes I wonder if they are eating in the same restaurant. Certainly if "Christian" atheism is tolerated in the CofE then anything goes, but at what cost?

 My problem is that there is an institutional disingenuity within the CofE in trying to hold different orthodoxies to be true. One might be minded of the famous Orthodox Phronema in which continuity with the mindset of the Apostolic Church trumps the use of Reason, but the Orthodox Phronema has, at its heart, the doctrine of the Nicene Creed. The CofE has lost that because it has given liberty to its members to attribute their own meanings to the words of the Creed. Ten years ago, I remember Anglicans telling me that they weren't going to allow the Creed to tell them what to believe. The evidence of that is bearing fruit.

As numbers decline, the CofE is now putting plans together for parishes to be run by groups of lay volunteers. There is a pretence at consulting the congregation, but this is often a lip-service. The forms are filled in and filed, but the decisions have already been made by the Deans, Archdeacons and Bishops before the congregation is consulted. It gives the illusion that the congregation is consulted. The congregation is to be seen and not heard. While I was a member of the CofE, I raised objections which were seen and not heard. I was faced with the duplicity of archdeacons and deans. I am not alone: a good friend actually called out the bare-faced lies of an archdeacon at a PCC meeting. That was over a decade ago. Looking at the Thinking Anglicans site, I am led to believe things have not improved. 

I am somewhat concerned for the fate of Forward in Faith. Recent pictures of the movements of the Bishop of Fulham seem to show the constant, chimere-clad presence of Dame Sarah Mullally, CEO of the Diocese of London. I get the impression that the Bishop of Fulham has been given a short leash from his superior. The impression I also get is that this is what "mutual flourishing" means and that FiF need constant supervision to ensure that their presence in the CofE is mitigated to preserve the "inclusive" and "diverse" nature of the CofE. I get that impression because that toleration-by-limitation-and-supervision was what I personally faced ten years ago when presented with working agreements deliberately designed to restrict my adherence to the Catholic Faith. I said, "satis est!" and found peace.

I found peace by ending the Quixotic idea of holding together two contradictories. Ironically, in letting go of the CofE, I also let go of the Papacy which I had seen as supplying the consistency the CofE was lacking. Once you see Orthodoxy and Catholicism enshrined in the preamble of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and know that the BCP is to be interpreted through the Early Church then you begin to appreciate that Anglican Catholicism has existed since the Roman roads were first trod in these shores. Too long, Anglican Catholicism has been seen and not heard in the UK.

We tend to get shouted down. Every so often, I get a comment by a zealous Roman Catholic telling me that my church and I are not valid. The only reason that they post such things is to publicly denounce me out of hatred or a need to be seen to be right. It can't be love or they would remember to admonish me privately first, or even just to pass over this blog. This is typical of what is happening to anyone trying to promote orthodoxy: we are to be seen and not heard. That has certainly been the view of more than one Bishop of Dover.

The trouble is that, in being seen, the light has been taken out from under a bushel. The moment we are seen, there are questions. The moment there are questions, attempts to suppress those questions become difficult - social changes show us that. The Anglican Catholic Diocese of the United Kingdom celebrates its thirtieth birthday in less than a month. We are still here and we stand with all Orthodox and Catholic Christians in proclaiming the Ancient Faith that will not be politically spun or suppressed. I rather think that this is why this little blogling still exists after sixteen years. 

All this seems to be a CofE-bashing post. That isn't my intention but, given that this is the church that claims the spiritual health of the Nation despite fewer than a tenth of the population asserting their membership, a spiritually unhealthy church based on confusion and wilful obfuscation to achieve political rather than spiritual ends. That said, vast credit and blessings must go to those simple parish priests and lay-folk who simply try, week in, week out, to live out their Christian faith sincerely; those who keep their heads out of politics in favour of meeting the needs of their immediate neighbours; those whose preaching of the Gospel is seen and not heard. There are plenty of those who call themselves Church of England, and I am inclined to believe their testimony over the hierarchy of the CofE. 

As for me? I, too, must keep studying in order to preach, teach and administer the Catholic Faith once delivered to the saints for I have still so much to learn. This will be another busy year of research and writing and I pray, through the merits of St Anselm, St Odile, St Benedict and St Thomas Aquinas, to the Almighty One True God that my work may bear His fruit.

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