Posts Tagged “church of england”

The retired bishop Peter Ball, pictured with Prince Charles in 1992. Photograph: SWNS.com, via (UK) Guardian.I’ve blogged about the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal repeatedly over the last few years, and more than a few correspondents have complained that I seem to be targeting only Catholic abusers, and not those in other churches or faiths. (As though this somehow absolves abusive Catholic clerics of their guilt … to be honest I have no idea how that works, but it seems to be a common presumption among Catholic apologists.)

That said, it’s just not true that I’ve solely blogged about Catholic child abusers. I’ve stated explicitly — and repeatedly — that child abuse at the hands of clergy is not only a Catholic problem, and have highlighted this in lots of other blog posts on the matter.

This time, it’s my sad duty to report this scandal has hit the Anglican Church in its homeland. As the Guardian reports, a retired English bishop has been arrested and charged with abuses a couple decades ago (WebCite cached article):

The arrest of Bishop Peter Ball on suspicion of sexual offences against boys and men at addresses in East Sussex and elsewhere is the latest development in a wide-ranging and often contentious series of official inquiries into decades of alleged child protection failures in the diocese of Chichester on England’s south coast.

Sussex police said on Tuesday that Ball is suspected of committing offences [cached] during the late 1980s and early 90s, when he was Bishop of Lewes, with responsibility for most of the parishes of East Sussex.

As big a “catch” as this is, it seems to be merely the beginning of this case:

Ball is the highest-profile church figure yet to be arrested, but the attention the scandal is likely to receive is only set to rise. Between now and next April, three separate child abuse cases against priests in the diocese of Chichester will be heard at Lewes crown court.

It’s not as though this diocese hasn’t been investigated. The Guardian explains that there had been prior reviews of child-abuse cases there, and some of them had concluded there were failures. But, until now, there hadn’t been any arrests. There might be more, this time.

Once again we see similar behavior to what we’ve seen in other churches and faiths: A reflexive desire to protect the reputation — and wealth — of the organization, even at the cost of allowing children to be abused. To what degree the civil authorities went along with this desire, remains to be seen … but the multiple reported cases, over a few decades, had to have alerted them to the fact that someone unsavory was going on. Why they waited until now to take action, is incomprehensible.

Photo credit: SWNS.Com, via (UK) Guardian.

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2004-10-09 Manchester CathedralThe Anglican Church has been caught in something of a tug-of-war over the last several years, as progressive thinkers and traditionalists tussle over its direction. Both sides in this struggle continue to engage in behaviors that keep the controversy alive. The latest example of this is a New Age fair that Manchester (UK) Cathedral plans to host, as the (UK) Daily Mail reports (WebCite cached article):

The Church of England was braced for a fresh row today after a cathedral announced plans to host a ‘new age’ festival.

The event — featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers, dream interpretation, and a fire-breathing vicar — is to be held in Manchester Cathedral in May.

But the move is certain to anger traditionalists, who feel the Church has already strayed too far from tradition.

The article notes there’s been an exodus of traditionalists from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, and implies that this plan is sure to inspire more defections. Even so, Manchester bishop Nigel McCulloch is not fazed:

But Bishop Nigel insisted the unconventional activities due to take place in Manchester Cathedral were not incompatible with Christian belief.

He said: ‘The event is a chance to discover and explore old and new Christian spiritual traditions from living in a community to praying with icons, from healing to bead-making, from Franciscan spirituality to contemporary music and movement.

Practitioners from all over the country will be on hand to offer their experience of how God speaks to us today through the cultural language and practices so common in mind, body, spirit fairs.’

This is not a message that traditionalist Christians — who devalue, if not dismiss as Satanic, any spirituality outside their religion — will accept. The Mail might be correct in saying that this will drive more Anglicans to the Catholic Church. I’m just not sure that number will be significant, however.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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St John the Evangelist Church, Calgary, AB | Google Earth v. 6, Street ViewI blogged a short while ago about some Anglican bishops who bolted their church and converted to Catholicism over the matter of (gasp! horrors!) women being ordained as priests. I said, then, that this would be only the beginning, and that a flood of Anglicans fleeing their church over the relentless onslaught of modernity would follow. Well, the exodus continues, this time exhibited in this report by CBC News about a Calgary parish that’s changing to Roman Catholicism (WebCite cached article):

An Anglican church in Calgary is set to become the first in Canada to accept an offer from the Vatican to become Catholic.

The congregation at St. John the Evangelist — the only high Anglican church in the diocese — has felt increasingly isolated as the parent church slowly liberalized, accepting women as priests and blessing gay and lesbian unions.

As with the bishops who converted last week, the R.C. Church plans to accommodate its new parish’s customs:

Under the new orders, which have not yet been created, former Anglican parishes will be permitted to maintain their distinctive liturgical practices, and priests will still be allowed to marry.

Strangely enough, the church building and property will remain in the hands of the Anglican diocese of Calgary. I have to wonder how long that arrangement is going to last?

Photo credit: Google Earth 6 Street View of St John the Evangelist Church in Calgary, AB.

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The Queen speaking to synod today, flanked by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Duke of Edinburgh.In a move that will, now doubt, enrage lots of theists — especially religionists of the “there-can-be-no-morality-without-God” variety, Queen Elizabeth II commented recently that atheists aren’t entirely bad. The (UK) Guardian reports on these comments to an Anglican Church synod (WebCite cached article):

People of faith do not have a monopoly on virtue as British society was now “more diverse and secular”, the Queen told the Church of England today in an address to its governing body.

Speaking at Church House, central London, she told members of General Synod that believers and atheists were equally able to contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of the country.

The Queen, who is supreme governor of the Church of England, said: “In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none.”

The irony here is that Queen Elizabeth — as the Guardian story mentions — is technically the head of the Church of England, as all English/UK monarchs have been, ever since Henry VIII cut off the church within his realm from the Holy See in Rome. Expect the furious retorts to the Queen to begin … not so much in her own realm or even the Commonwealth, but within the US, among the vocal militant Christianists.

Photo credit: Wpa Pool/Getty Images via The Guardian.

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Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Central Tower. Seen from south. Image assembled from 4 photos.It’s been a couple years in coming, but it seems the dam of the Anglican Union has broken. Five Anglican bishops have bolted their church, over its increasingly progressive policies, and they’ve gone over to Roman Catholicism. Reuters reports on the first of what promises to be many more defections (WebCite cached article):

Five Church of England bishops opposed to the ordination of women bishops will take up an offer by Pope Benedict and convert to Roman Catholicism, heralding a possible exodus of traditionalist Anglicans.

An arrangement has been made within the Catholic Church under which any currently-married Anglican clergy can convert, without having to set aside their wives under Catholicism’s centuries-old celibacy requirement. (This is not entirely unprecedented; there are Eastern Rite clergy belonging to the Maronite Church — for example — who likewise can be married, but who are in communion with Roman Catholicism.) The direct cause of what amounts to the opening salvo in a renewed Anglican schism is the ordination of women:

One of the departing prelates said the women bishops issue was part of a wider problem they had with the Church of England claim to belong to the universal Church founded by Jesus that includes the far larger and older Roman Catholic Church. …

Church of England defections were triggered by a vote at the July General Synod, the Church’s parliament, that confirmed it would consecrate women bishops.

At one time the Anglican Church had been one of the most progressive of the world’s mainline churches. Defections such as this are bound to yank it backward in time and force it to return to more medieval ways, inspired by the apostle Paul, who (supposedly) said, among other things:

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor 14:34-35)

But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Eph 5:24)

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Col 3:18)

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1 Tim 2:11-12)

These, of course, are merely the tip of the iceberg: The rest of the Bible is hardly kind to women, either. It’s all because of Eve, you see (see especially Gen 3:16). Because a serpent swindled Eve, every woman who ever lives simply must be treated like crap. Isn’t that obvious!?

Pedantic note: Most scholars dismiss the idea that Saul (aka Paul) actually wrote any of these words. The epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians and to Timothy and Titus were likely written by later Christians and falsely attributed to Paul in order to give them greater apparent authority. While Paul likely did write both canonical epistles to the Corinthians, the above-quoted passage — and a few others — are probably later interpolations (or insertions). Here’s a Wikipedia article introducing the subject of Paul’s authorship, in case you feel like exploring the topic in greater depth … and I definitely advocate looking much further than just Wikipedia.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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With all of the problems the Anglican Church is facing worldwide (I’ve blogged on that church’s controversies here and here), you would think its head — Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams — would want to avoid any additional controversies. But he has reignited one that’s over a century old (as the (UK) Guardian reports), but had been dormant for decades. That controversy is called “disestablishment,” whether or not to sever the ties of the Anglican Church to the the British government (specifically, the monarch’s status as head of the Church):

The Archbishop of Canterbury has reignited the debate over the separation of church and state by saying that “it would not be the end of the world if the established church disappeared”.

In an interview with this week’s New Statesman, Rowan Williams argues there is a “certain integrity” to a church free from state sanctions.

Williams, who was born in Swansea, grew up in the Church of Wales, a disestablished church, and spent 10 years working as one of its bishops.

He said: “I can see that it’s by no means the end of the world if the establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh synod, it didn’t have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that.”

At the time of his elevation to Archbishop, it had been thought — or perhaps, in some quarters, feared — that Williams might pursue disestablishment; but he never did. This is the first time the matter has come up during his tenure.

It seems an odd time in the history of the Anglican Church for Williams to kick up this matter, which had been somewhat contentious near the end of the 19th century. The (UK) Telegraph offers a possible reason:

What the Archbishop’s supporters say he is doing is defending the Church’s place in a society where only a minority are believers. The Church boasts that 1.7 million people attend its services each month, but the other side of this statistic is that almost 50 million of the English population do not do so. Therefore it must point to the other good works it undertakes on behalf of those who are not to be found in the pews each Sunday. Anglicans are estimated to carry out 23 million hours of voluntary work each year, helping the sick, homeless and needy.

Indeed, the second most senior figure in the Church of England, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, recently said he wanted it to be more like a hospital and open to followers of any religion or none. “The Church remains the last bastion of defence for those who would find themselves close to jettison by society,” he wrote.

In other words, this is a way of converting the Anglican Church into the proverbial “Big Tent,” and giving it a wider appeal. Perhaps Williams is doing this at this very moment, precisely because he’s under siege by archconservatives within his own ranks and the Anglican Union already faces a pending schism … there appears no better time than this, to try to open up his Church.

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