Tuesday 26 February 2013

When you have friends like these, who needs enemies?

So is the well known quip. This springs to mind when one considers the enormously bad publicity being brought upon the universal Church in the Western world. The constant bickering and contesting between rival factions, the inappropriate behaviour of some within the Church, are destroying the Church in Western society which is increasingly secular of its own choice.

There has to be firm leadership within the two main denominations, from the new Pope whoever he may be, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is far too much self concern amongst groups within the Church seeking to promote their own agenda, and these must be brought to an end.

Now we have allegations of serious sexual misconduct made against the highest ranking Catholic in Britain. If this be true, it leaves a deep scar on the Christian Church; a majority of people do not acknowledge denominations. If it not be true, it is still serious for malicious action.

The hypocrisy of the Catholic Church is damningly condemned this morning by a one time editor of the Catholic Herald, who points out the strong condemnation of homosexual behaviour from Pontifical letters and pulpit preaching, only for it to be revealed that not a few priests are practising homosexuals, a fact widely recognised.

Damian Thompson a distinguished columnist for the Telegraph newspaper has written that it is widely accepted that many Catholic priests in Western cities are gay, albeit celibate. (I have never understood how a person’s sexuality could be defined if they were celibate). If however such is the case, then in consideration of the Bible’s teaching, to put it euphemistically, something is very much wrong within the Catholic Church.

I think this is very sad for there are men within the Catholic Church, who at least appear to be sound thinkers. and not afraid to voice their thoughts. The two London Archbishops, Vincent Nichols and especially Peter Smith have impressed me with clear down to earth messages.

The Catholic Church has acted honourably in refusing to accept that two same sex people could adopt children, and closed down their adoption agencies rather than succumb to government bullying. The Church was at the forefront in opposing same sex marriage.

The Anglican Church in the West is not immune from criticism. The in fighting has left the Church looking ridiculous as various factions have waved banners outside meetings with rather inane slogans on. There deems to be no end to this situation as the dispute over women bishops and homosexual clergy continue to rage.

When women were ordained into the priesthood we were told that was their sole ambition and no further appointments were desired. Anyone who believed that was either a fool or naïve. Leaving aside the rights or wrongs regarding the appointment of women as bishops, what should be a matter for consideration is the effect it is having on the Church in general. We will be separated from the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Churches when such appointments are approved, as undoubtedly they will be. It is obvious to all realistic minds that within a few months ways will be found to circumvent any opposition, and legislation will proceed accordingly.

I can understand the frustration of those women priests who see their career prospects being blocked, and to be honest, that is so much more important to them than their vocation as priests, just as it is with some men. From a personal point of view I am not bothered either way, I have little, if anything, to do with bishops, but for the good of the unity of the Church worldwide, I had hoped there would be the sacrifice of personal ambitions.

I have just been watching a film about the work of Jackie Pullinger, the missionary who went to the walled city of Hong Kong in the 1960 era (now destroyed). This was an amazing woman who worked for Christ in the most appalling conditions imaginable, mastered the Cantonese language, possibly the most difficult one to learn, in order to communicate with the people, yet did not seek any recognisable title.

There must be so many people out there who would love to find a spiritual home but are confused at the constant mixed messages emanating by word and action from those within the Church. When we take Holy Orders we vow to honour and respect Holy Scripture, and a high standard of honesty, integrity and dignity are expected. Until too many people begin to behave and speak accordingly, the Church will never prosper.

What the Church needs so badly are more men and women with the Jackie Pullinger commitment.

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