Saturday, 31 July 2010

Anglican Patrimony?

There has been much written on various blogs lately about Anglican Patrimony and what it really is and various arguments have been put forward in answer to that question. To my mind, Anglican Patrimony comes down to one essential question: what makes an Anglican distinctive. In my younger days we used to hold the view that one of the qualities of the church was that it managed to hold in tension three distinct churchmanship’s: Catholic, Central, and Evangelical. Whilst we might not agree we were all held together in this fellowship of the Church of England. We served under a Diocesan Bishop with whom we might disagree, whom we might not even like, but who we respected because he held together the Diocese in that bond of fellowship. That all disappeared when the ordination of women was implemented and Anglo-Catholics found themselves out of Communion with their Diocesan because he ordained women. They then came under the jurisdiction of Alternative Episcopal care. Barriers were erected and Catholics made to feel out on a limb by those who accepted the innovation. Sniping became a regular practice at things like Deanery Chapter and Deanery Synod from some clergy and people who would not, or who could not, accept us.

The distinctive nature of a CofE Parish means that everybody who lives in it has the right, by law established, to the service of the parochial clergy in such things as weddings and funerals and pastoral care regardless of their religious affiliation. I see this as part of the Patrimony which I guess with the Ordinariate may no longer be the case. Although taking weddings for non-believers, for example, can be enormously frustrating, they can provide an opportunity for evangelism.

Some argue that the Book of Common Prayer is part of the patrimony and I would have to agree with them. Prayer Book Evensong, sung well, is a delight. But although I have celebrated the Holy Communion according to the Prayer Book I find it quite deficient and much prefer the Roman Rite (or even Common Worship with Roman additions). Some advocate a return to the English Missal as being the authentic Mass of the Anglo-Catholic, and whilst I have used it occasionally I would not want to use it all the time.

Perhaps another part of Anglican Patrimony could be the willingness to take non-Eucharistic services from time to time such as the Christingle and the Nine Lessons and Carols. Both of these bring many people into church who would not otherwise come and provide another opportunity for teaching and evangelism.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Back Home

I’ve been away for a couple of days visiting my son, daughter in law and our grandchildren who have just returned to the UK from Germany where they have been living for the last few years. They hired a holiday cottage in Gloustershire for a week whilst they waited for their furniture to arrive. We haven’t seen our grandchildren since last November and we were surprised by how they had grown in that short time. I returned home yesterday so I could say Mass at St. George’s Church, Brentwood this morning. Ann has stayed on, so she could mind the children whilst the parents oversee the remover’s arrival from Germany and the setting up of their new home.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Church of England “Is fast sinking into a Sect” David Starkey 2007

In the programme, Monarchy - the Windsors by David Starkey, broadcast on Channel 4 on Saturday, David Starkey talked about the Prince of Wales wanting to be known as Defender of Faiths rather than The Defender of the Faith. He commented on the state of the Church of England and said these prophetic words: The Church of England “is fast sinking into a sect”. This programme was produced in 2007, three years ago, and it was obvious to Starkey then the direction the Cof E was taking and in my opinion, has continued to take with the vote in General Synod concerning the consecration of women to the Episcopate and its other liberal tendencies.

When some of the people serving on General Synod were asked about the solemn promises made to Parliament to get the original legislation through for the ordination of women to the priesthood which provided a measure of protection for those who were not prepared to accept this innovation, they replied that promises were made to be broken. Which only really proves, if proof were needed, that the current promises in the new legislation will only be for as long as Synod thinks fit and that they are more than likely to be rescinded within a short period of time. Those who are relying on the Code of Practice, will, I believe, be bitterly disappointed.

Isn’t it time that people in the CofE woke up to the direction the Church is taking and begin to do something about it? Many of us think it is far too late, we think that the slippery path which the Church took when it decided it had to conform to the norms of society rather than the Word of God, the traditions of the Apostles and the Catholic faith has so far progressed that any retreat now is not feasible. And this is mainly because there are so many who no longer accept the faith once delivered as anything more than providing a way of life which can be altered by a whim of General Synod.

Whilst Rome burnt Nero played his fiddle. Whilst the Church of England descends into apostasy and as Starkey comments sinks into a sect, the Bishops do absolutely nothing and they, by their apostolic ministry are supposed to be the protectors of the faith.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Justice needs to be seen to be done – how many times have I heard that saying. Yet when it comes to the police it seems there is one rule for us and another for them. I refer to the decision by the DPP that there will be no prosecution for manslaughter of the policeman who assaulted Ian Tomlinson just before he died at the G20 demonstration. Ian Tomlinson was not in any way involved in the demonstration. He was on his way home from his job as a newspaper salesman when he became involved. Not only was he bitten by a police dog, he was struck down by a policeman with an expandable baton, and then pushed to the ground by the same officer. All of this was filmed.

The Guardian quotes Brian Paddick, a former top Scotland Yard officer, who said the decision not to bring charges risked damaging public confidence in British justice. "The public saw what appears to be an unprovoked attack and the law being unable to bring that officer to account," he said. "It damages the entire criminal justice system, from the police through to the CPS. "They could have summonsed for common assault within the six months' time limit and carried on their inquiries into the manslaughter charge."

It has taken the DPP 16 months to come to their conclusions and they would have been well aware that a lesser charge of common assault could only be pressed within six months. It does appear, that apart from possible disciplinary proceedings, the police officer involved will not face prosecution. I believe the whole thing to be totally unacceptable and a disgrace to British Justice. One can only sympathise with the Tomlinson family.

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Vote in Synod – the aftermath

I was surprised when I opened The Church Times today to discover that all of the 11 Letters to the Editor discussing the vote in Synod were in favour of woman in the Episcopate and most condemned “traditionalists”. One in particular really annoyed me! It said that the Measure provides traditionalists with more than they seem to believe. It means, it is argued, that a woman bishop or a male bishop who ordains woman will automatically appoint a traditionalist male bishop for those who petition for alternative liturgical and pastoral functions. It states that pastoral sensitivity would preclude any other action.

The experience of many priests and parishes who have the present protection of the Act of Synod and the Resolutions know exactly what that “pastoral sensitivity” is like under some of the Diocesan Bishops who have done everything in their power to undermine them. The letter argues that there is no need for anything to be enshrined in law because nobody except a traditionalist bishop would take on the task because it would put them in an impossible situation. Really? I wouldn’t stake money on it, personally.

It baffles me that there were no letters from those who oppose the Measure; perhaps nobody could be bothered to write to the Church Times as they recover from the shock that the CofE doesn’t really want them unless they are prepared to tow the line. All the talk about “we love you” and “we feel your pain” is the biggest load of baloney. They don’t love us and they couldn’t give a fig about our pain. The sooner we are lanced from them, as far as most of them are concerned, the better. And for some to say that there is an honoured place for us really takes the biscuit. Obviously the message “that a Code of Practice will not do” has not penetrated the minds of some people. So I reiterate: A CODE OF PRACTICE WILL NOT DO – not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Priests and People of Faith

A few years ago we had a wonderful holiday in Greece. While we were there we were able to travel to Corinth and visit the ruins of the ancient city where St. Paul addressed the Tribune and to where he sent his famous letters. Once, one of the most important and largest cities in Greece and in the world of that day, and now just a heap of ruins in a large site still being excavated. In those days it was close to the coast but now it is several miles inland. Looking down from the hill on which it was built towards the coast, in the far distance, you can see the modern city of Corinth.

Having now been to several sites visited by S. Paul (in Turkey - Ephesus etc., Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Rome) it has made me realize just how enthusiastic the early Christians were to bring the good news of the Gospel to people far and wide. They didn’t have the advantage of modern travel facilities and often their lives were put in real danger not only from hostile people but also from theconsiderable dangers in travelling. They took to heart the injunction Jesus gave to spread the Gospel allowing nothing to stand in their way which brings me to the point I wish to make. Why don’t we have the same enthusiasm today that those early Christians had. We don’t have to brave wild animals, pirates, dangerous seas or difficult travel although we might have to brave the hostility of some people.

Over the last few years we have seen a steady decline in membership of the Church of England with declining church attendance. Whilst there are many reasons for this one of the most likely is the watering down of the faith and the liberal agenda. The promised growth we were told to expect with women’s ordination has not happened which will be no surprise to most of us whilst those who continue to teach the faith as delivered to the Apostles have seen growth.

One of the tasks that we must undertake, once the Ordiariate is up and running is the important task of mission. The Ordinariate must not become just a refuge for dissenting clergy and people but a body of priests and people of faith proclaiming the Faith and bringing people to it.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Anything Goes Liturgy!

Some months ago, my daughter, son-in-law and baby went to their local church which is very close to where they live. I did warn them that they would find it a bit different to what they had previously been used to. They were somewhat surprised when the service, billed as a Service of Holy Communion began with the Eucharistic Prayer and after the faithful had made their Communion the children including my daughter and baby were dismissed to the hall, for a Sunday School Lesson whilst the remaining congregation then had some Bible readings, prayers and a jolly long sermon. They hated it and from then on have been attending St. Augustine’s at Rush Green where they have to drive several miles and where, I’m pleased to say, they are very happy and on the Electoral Roll.

I find it hard to believe or understand just what that priest and congregation thought they were doing. Is this another example of “how we do church” or even a “fresh expression” of worship? This is symptomatic of the slipshod way that some on the liberal wing consider liturgy, a sort of anything goes, do what you like when you like affair with the clergy dressed in tee shirt and jeans.

Last year I went to celebrate Mass at a church during an Interregnum and was told as I entered the door that all I had to do was preach and do the Eucharistic Prayer; all the rest would be done by the congregation. I soon put them right, that I would introduce the Confession, pronounce the Absolution, pray the Collect, read the Gospel etc. “That’s not the way we do things here” “Sorry” I replied, “you have a choice either I do it as I have said or I’ll be on my way.” I was not invited back I’m pleased to say, as I wouldn’t have gone. I discovered afterwards that a women priest had been on the staff until she moved to new pastures something I wasn’t aware of previously. During coffee after the Service a women priest arrived walked straight past me as though I wasn’t there and proceeded to talk to people as they were leaving. I asked who she was and was told that she had been there until quite recently and often came back to chat to people. I left straight away!

As an Anglo- Catholic priest who likes things to be done decently and in order I find this sort of cavalier attitude to the liturgy, demonstrated in these two examples, very sad but regrettably what many churches in the Cof E are like

Friday, 16 July 2010

Meeting at South Benfleet

Today I attended the local SSC Chapter of which I am a member which was held at St. Mary’s, South Benfleet. I was shocked when I drove into the car park to find that to park in South Benfleet would be a very expensive experience. The charge was £4.50 which allowed parking for 24 hours, coming and going as you wished. No wonder the car park was nearly empty.

After the Angelus, Mass and lunch, Father David Waller, Vicar of St. Saviours, Walthamstow and member of General Synod told us about the recent meeting of Synod in York when members decided that they would make little or no provision for Catholic or Conservative Evangelical Christians when women are consecrated.

After Father David spoke, the Bishop of Richborough gave a short talk and answered questions on the future for the Church of England. Rarely have I been to such a sombre meeting as Anglo-Catholic priests mourned the demise of the church they loved and which they have given loyal and devoted service to, many for a great number of years. There is no doubt that we now face a period of bereavement and I suggested at the meeting that what we needed to do was to pray and think, and to think and pray, and to go to the Sacred Synod on the 24th September at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.

In the end I think we will come to the conclusion that, in fact, General Synod has done us a favour by not making the provision we asked for. Now there is nothing to prevent us taking up the Holy Father’s generous offer of the Ordnariate.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Clap Trap

I have amused myself today reading some of the sanctimonious claptrap written by some of the supporters of women bishops who are rejoicing that General Synod has found, they argue, a solution to the problem of “traditionalists” without diminishing the power of Diocesan Bishops, by agreeing to grant them a Code of Practice. It will, they maintain to a person, be sufficient to keep the whole church united so we can go forward together into the future. There’s no need for any special provision for Traditionalists or Conservative Evangelical other than what the Code of Practice will provide. With this provision, they say, most, if not all will stay and we shall all be one big happy family. In your dreams!!!!!!

Now that this leviathan of legislation is to do the round of the Dioceses, can we look to them for any support? I don’t think so. One writer suggested that they had wanted a one clause piece of legislation but had decided that they wouldn’t oppose a Code of Practice even though they don’t agree with it. I think the logic of that is that they would rather that there was no provision at all. For all the good it will do, there might as well have been, as a Code of Practice, as I have pointed out before, will just not work. And even if it does work for a while it will be within the power of Synod to revoke it as they have done with the other promises they have made. Or a Diocesan Bishop could just choose to ignore it and, I suspect, many will.

The other evening, talking about the women bishops issue, a lady said to me she wished now she hadn’t stayed in the CofE in 1992. The promises that had persuaded her to say, possibly against her better judgement, had been broken and now she felt there was no alternative but to join the Ordinaraite. How right she is.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Licensing at S. Alban’s, Ilford

Last night, I went to the Licensing of Father Stuart Halstead, as Priest-in-Charge of S. Albans, Ilford. The church was packed and it was good to see some of my previous parishioners from S. Francis, Barkingside amongst them as well as representatives from other Anglo-Catholic parishes where I have officiated during holidays etc. The service was conducted by David, Bishop of Barking and Keith, Bishop of Richborough preached. Many fellow priests were there to support Fr. Stuart. After the service a lavish buffet was served in the church hall.

Several of us discussed the aftermath of Saturday’s vote in General Synod and are looking forward to the Sacred Synod in September at the Emmanuel Centre where we hope to hear some positive information about the Ordinariate

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Women in the Episcopate

Somebody said to me: “Surely if women can be priests they can be bishops. I can’t see what all the fuss is about” There is logic to that statement but the key to it is “if women can be priests”. When the original debate was proceeding about the ordination of women, I argued that it was the wrong way round. The first question that needed resolution was “could women be bishops”. If the answer to that was no then they couldn’t be priests either. Typically of the CofE, they put the cart before the horse and proceeded to ordain women before resolving whether or not they could be bishops in the apostolic line. Once we had women priests the next step to women bishops was inevitable.

But for most Anglo-Catholics, women can’t be priests. It is not that we are misogynists but rather we put our faith in three things: Scripture, Tradition and reason. There is no tradition of women priests and nothing in the Bible which indicates that women can be priests. The Apostles, of which our Bishops are the successors, were all male. I don’t believe that Jesus would have been high bound by the custom of his day and just choose men to avoid upsetting the custom of the day.

Whilst, as I wrote previously, the consecration of women as bishops was inevitable, what was not inevitable was the way that General Synod has made little or no provision for those male priests who will never accept women as either bishops or priests. The promises made have all been broken so what trust can be put in The Code of Practice. It has been approved, without it even being published, and it will be such that it will be at the discretion of the Diocesan Bishop just what arrangements he/she may or may not make. My prediction is that within a short space of time, say ten years at most, it will be rescinded, just as they have rescinded the Act of Synod.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Welcome Mat

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

Many of us are apprehensive about a step into the unknown which is what going to the Ordinariate will be. But let’s be realistic. Many of us, who would consider ourselves Anglican Papalists, have for many years followed the Roman path. We have used their books and services, if not in full, in part. We regularly pray for the Pope at Mass and we regularly pray for Unity especially with Rome. This is no longer a pipe dream but has become an reality. Whereas the Church of England doesn’t want us anymore the Holy Father and Rome does. The Welcome Mat is out and all we have to do is cross the threshold.

The Church of England may say in the words of the Creed that it believes “in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” but the actions of Synod don’t substantiate this. All pretence of being Catholic has been thrown out of the window. From the date of this Synod, The Church of England becomes a Protestant Sect on the same level as all the other Protestant Sects. Any claim by the Cof E to be Catholic and Reformed is now a nonsense; it can now only claim to be reformed.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


Question: When is a promise not a promise?

Answer: When it is a solemn undertaking by the General Synod of the Church of England.

Many of us remember, when the Ordination of Women was being considered the solemn promise made, at that time, that those who were unable to accept women as priest would have an honoured place within the Church of England. Provision was made by the Act of Synod for those parishes to have the Episcopal services of a Provincial Episcopal Visitor (a flying Bishop). That has now been abolished by the latest moves by Synod and little, or no provision is now available to those who for theological and scriptural reason are unable to accept women’s ministry as priests. Some fairly minor, and totally useless, provision will be made by a Code of Practice. Not having the force of law, the Code of Practice will be at the discretion of each Diocesan Bishop, some of whom will be women.

The defeat of the amendment was by means of a procedural device whereby a request was made to vote in Houses. To be successful a proposal or amendment must be passed in each House. So, although the overall total in favour was 216 with 191 against and 9 abstentions, because it was in Houses it failed in the House of Clergy.

One of the speakers in yesterday’s debate at General Synod told us that Catholic and Conservative Evangelicals need have no fear for the future as it was a matter of “grace” that each Bishop would make a suitable arrangement. Really? I don’t think so. What arrangements may be made will be of minor import of that I have no doubt and will not be satisfactory for those people who remain in the Church of England. But there is an answer!

This morning I had the privilege of presiding at the Solemn Mass at S. Barnabas, Woodford, a three resolution Forward in Faith Parish. I reassured those who were dismayed by the vote yesterday, that as the door of the Church of England was closing to us, another was opening. What we must do is place our trust in God who would never desert his faithful people and who will go before us to lead us.

The door that is opening is the door of the Ordinariate. We don’t know all the details yet but one thing is perfectly clear, the church of our birth is showing us the door. We stand in the way of their liberalising ambitions. I forecast that before long the C of E will marry gays, have practising homosexuals, male and female, as Bishops and will water down the faith so much that it will no longer be recognisable as the apostolic faith we Catholics profess.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Archbishops Amendment LOST

I’ve spent part of this very hot afternoon listening to the debate from General Synod. As I forecast the amendment of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York has been lost. Voting was in houses and the result was:-
House of Bishops For: 25 Against: 15
House of Clergy For: 85 Against: 90 Abstentions: 5
House of Laity For: 106 Against 86 Abstentions 4
As it failed in the House of Clergy the amendment was lost. I will comment further when I’ve had time to reflect on it.

Friday, 9 July 2010


This morning I celebrated Mass at St. Alban’s Ilford, a Forward in Faith parish. Their new Parish Priest will be licensed on Tuesday as Priest in Charge as the living has been suspended the same way as St. Mary’s Ilford. Like St. Mary’s, St. Albans is a flourishing parish a short distance from the town centre, maintaining the Catholic faith. One wonders why these two parishes have been suspended. A wicked thought possibly but could it be that it is because they are both Catholic opposed to women priests and the proposed new innovation of women bishops?

General Synod begins today, and tomorrow the debate about Women as Bishops begins and there are 47 pages of amendments to the Measure. It will be interesting, and informative to see how the debate progresses and what, if any, arrangements are made for Catholics who oppose the Measure. I suspect that whatever arrangements are made, they will fall considerably short of what is needed. And I reiterate: A CODE OF PRACTICE WILL NOT DO!!!!!!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Orient Express



When I celebrated my 70th birthday in December, the family clubbed together and gave me a trip on the Orient Express as a special present so yesterday, at the crack of dawn, Ann and I set of for London Victoria for our trip to York. It took us some time to decide which of the many trips the Orient Express does each year to choose which we thought we would enjoy most and settled on York as it’s some years since we’ve been there.


When we boarded the train we were given bilini’s followed by breakfast/brunch. We enjoyed our smoked salmon, scrambled egg, potato rosti with caviar, Danish Pastries etc and although the journey took over 5 hours we seemed to arrive in York very quickly. The train is absolute luxury and the carriages have all been restored to a very high standard. The staff are attentive to your every need; nothing is too much trouble.


We had a trip round the Minster and then explored the Shambles. We hoped to go to Betty’s for afternoon tea but the queue was so long we just bought some cakes to take home and found another cafe, not so busy, nearby. There are now two Betty’s in York and both were full to capacity. Thankfully, it wasn’t so hot yesterday but we gathered from our waiter that it had been almost unbearable on the train last week – the only air conditioning being the windows!


On the trip back to London we were served with iced champagne when we boarded the train and then followed a sumptuous five course gourmet dinner which was excellent with wine and port.. How the chefs manage to produce such wonderful food in the confined space of a tiny railway kitchen is beyond belief!. It was a wonderful experience which we both really enjoyed. We left the train at Finsbury Park and then it was back to reality as we went home via the tube and train. It was a great day and we are most grateful to everybody who made this possible

Monday, 5 July 2010

Music in Worship

Yesterday, a warm sunny day here in Romford, saw me presiding at the Parish Mass for the first time for several months as I have been playing the organ at St. Augustine’s since before Easter. I was most grateful to Father Martin for allowing me to do this. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed playing again on a regular basis but also greatly missed standing at the Altar. It’s been something of a dichotomy.

When I went to Theological College, having been an organist non-stop for many, many years I was firmly told that those days were now over. Wrong! Within weeks I was regularly playing for College, accompanied the College Choir at Salisbury Cathedral on several occasions when they sang Evensong, played for a Save the Children Fund Service in the Cathedral and helped the organist at St. Martin’s where we went to church in Salisbury so he could conduct from time to time. In fact, since those days I’ve played at quite a few churches, some with great organs, some with good organs and some with diabolical instruments and, no, I’m not going to say which is which.

Over the years I’ve been responsible, or partly responsible, for the installation of new organs in 4 churches. For me, music is one important way of expressing my devotion and the organ, the King of Instruments, the most suitable for accompanying worship. It therefore saddens me when I hear that churches have abandoned their organ for a “group”. I’m not saying that there is no place in worship for that style of music although, I must admit, much of it does little for me. I’ve heard of one recently where there is a fine two manual pipe organ which is no longer used and the organist has been discharged in favour of a “group”.

Music needs to be worthy to be used in worship and some of the modern words and music used by some churches are often just repetitive ditties which are trite, sentimental doggerel sung to abysmal music accompanied by banging drums, twanging guitars, a group singing (bawling) and the whole lot over amplified.
In a service, in a packed Cathedral not so long ago, an electric piano, guitars and drums with a group of singers had been imported to accompany the service. During that service the anthem by S. S. Wesley “Lead me Lord” was sung accompanied by the band jazzed up to make it “modern”. Why? And why not use the very fine Cathedral organ at all. Even the entry and exit was accompanied by the group.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The proposed amendments by the Archbishops of Canterbruy & Yotk

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York from the 9th to the 13th of July when one of the main items on the Agenda will be the legislation to enable the consecration of women as Bishops. Into the melting pot of that legislation will be the amendment recently proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which seeks to provide a degree more provision for those of us who cannot accept that women can be either bishops or priests than previously provided within the legislation. However the whole thing revolves around a “Code of Practice” and as has been said on many occasions a Code of Practice will not do.

It is proposed that a male bishop will be authorised to function in those parishes which write a Letter of Request to their female Diocesan Bishop who will then be able to authorise another bishop to function in her place. Such a Bishop would have the authority of the legislation. The main question I can see is how a Catholic could accept consecration to act for such parishes when it will involve being part of a College of Bishops which will be partly comprised of women bishops with whom he will be expected to be in communion. Would/could a woman be involved in his consecration? Finally, it doesn’t remove from the Diocesan Bishop any part of their jurisdiction. How on earth can that work?

I think the efforts by Canterbury and York are a last ditch attempt to make some provision for Anglos-Catholics which the Revision Committee acting on behalf of General Synod have failed to do. I think it has dawned on them just what could be at stake if the legislation is passed with just a Code of Practice which will be as useless as a chocolate teapot. I believe the Amendments have been made in good faith but my conclusions are that they are not the answer. And I also think General Synod will either reject them out of hand or alter them in such a way that what small provision they make will be watered down so much as to be useless any way. In any case, the Archbishops state in their notes to their amendment that “The diocesan retains the freedom to amend the diocesan scheme from time to time after consultation with the diocesan synod.” How long would it be before some Bishop or another scraps the scheme or changes it in such a way that it becomes totally unworkable.

So where do we go from here? For me there is only one answer which is the Ordinariate.