What future for the Church?

The Church of England (see footnote on Church in Wales situation) has really shot itself in the foot with its farcical constitution allowing a small minority of old-fashioned bigots to hold the Church back from a modicum of progressive change.It is a system that was put in place to protect the churchs traditional values at a time when these were accepted unquestioningly by the majority.While 324 synod members voted for women bishops, Church voting rules mean 122 votes against were enough to block it.

By my reckoning, it would have been passed if just 4 more members of the House of Laity had voted for it.

Christina Rees, a synod member who has spent 20 years campaigning for women bishops, said: “It feels as if the House of Laity betrayed the entire Church of England last night.

“The people, the sort of extremes in our Church – the very conservative evangelicals and very traditionalist Anglo-Catholics – have no idea how this will be read by most people.”

She said she thought that, to most people, “this just looks like blatant discrimination”.

Equalities minister Maria Miller said the vote outcome was “very disappointing”, and showed that the Church was “behind the times”, sources said.

The church has therefore been hoisted by its own petard.

In a era of progressive secularisation in the MEDC societies of Europe, churches are seen as increasingly out of touch and irrelevant. The hard-core traditionalists/fundamentalists (whatever you want to call them) will hang about until they die out. The progressive elements of the CoE are not likely to defect to other sects, but it may hasten the realisation for some that they do not need a church at all.

When the progressives win through (in 5 years time?), the CoE will haemorrhage the bigots to their natural haven, the Roman Catholic church, and perhaps become more coherent and stronger for a while. But the slow steady demise looks set to continue in contrast to the rampant advance of religion and superstition in the LEDC countries of Africa and Asia.

We have a situation today whereby the Roman Catholic church has to send missionary priests from Africa to man (he says quite deliberately) the churches in the UK.

The big challenge is finding a way to rationalise and secularise the parts of the world suffering from prevalent primitive beliefs and customs.

A good start would be putting our own house in order. Historically the Church of England has enjoyed a highly privileged status in the UK and continues to access power and authority within what is now essentially a secular state. Other faith groups do not have such extensive benefits within the state, and nor should they. The following HM Government e-petition calls for the dis-establishment of the Church of England and the removal of any rights and privileges enjoyed by all churches and faith groups beyond those that apply to all individuals and charities. Support this campaign and share widely:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41394

Andy Chyba.

Footnote:

The Church in Wales is the Anglican church in Wales, composed of six dioceses.

As with the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Wales serves concurrently as one of the six diocesan bishops. The current archbishop is Barry Morgan, the Bishop of Llandaff.

In contrast to the Church of England, the Church in Wales is not an established church. Disestablishment was effected in 1920, under the Welsh Church Act 1914. It was, however, on Disestablishment, allowed to keep all its church buildings including ancient pre-Reformation ones.

As a member of the Anglican Communion the Church in Wales recognises the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury who does not, however, have any formal authority in the Church in Wales (except for residual roles in ecclesiastical court to try the archbishop, as metropolitan, and the appointment of notaries). A handful of border parishes remained in the Church of England and so were exempt from disestablishment, It has proved possible for a cleric of the Church in Wales to come to occupy the See of Canterbury, and the outgoing archbishop, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, is Welsh and originally held posts in the Church in Wales – in fact he was the Archbishop of Wales before his appointment to Canterbury.

Following the failure to pass a mandate for women bishops in the CoE, the Archbishop of Wales says he hopes to be able to ordain women bishops in the Church in Wales ‘before very long’.

Dr Barry Morgan said a bill on the matter will be brought in next September.

However, even if backed, it would not be brought into force until pastoral provision had been put in place for those who are opposed, he added.

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