Wednesday 27 March 2013

Last week was a memorable on for the Christian Church(es). We had the inauguration of Pope Frances, followed in the same week by the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both in their own way were inspiring, but I think the Papal ceremony was the more majestic and serious.

The Canterbury service looked too stage managed, trying to appear popular. The opening scene does not seem, however to have created the impression I think it sought, being rather trite. We had a young woman, of Asian origin of course, asking the Archbishop as he enters the Cathedral, the rather ridiculous question who are you and why are you here. Everyone knew who Justin Welby was and why he was there, this was just play acting. The fact that the Archbishop was sworn in by a woman Archdeacon was bound to attract media attention too.

I am sure Justin wishes he had the loyalty given to him that the Pope enjoys. No sooner had Justin been inaugurated than up pops
the ever headline seeking Bishop of Buckingham to speak against him. The Archbishop had made plain the views of himself and the Church of England officially, that same sex marriage was opposed by the Church, yet here was this disloyal Bishop speaking against that stance. The Archbishop deserves, and should get support from his bishops, and has enough to contend with without opposition from within.

If the bishop pursues Christianity as vigorously as he writes and speaks for the gay community, Buckingham would be a Christian stronghold. How can a man hold such high office in the Church and publicly contradict his leader. What is more the Bishop accuses the Church of hypocrisy; I think he should look harder at his own statements.

We hear much of the fact that Justin Welby was an oil executive prior to entering the Church, in which case I am sure he had administrative ability. Perhaps he may care to look at the situation in which too many priests in the Church are occupying non jobs. When a man, or now a woman, becomes a priest the intention is that they will serve in a parish, but there seems to be an appetite to become agricultural chaplains, or industrial chaplains, far away from the rigours of parish life. If some priest wants to engage in farming or industrial life, they would be able to find time as ‘part’ of parish work.

I have been surprised how many hospital chaplains feel it necessary to have parish priests assist in taking services in hospitals on Sundays, or is such a five day week post?

Another outrage is that years ago priests were promised that by taking a lower stipend they would be rewarded by an acceptable pension. Many good men (men only in those days) accepted such assurance, and now find they must serve longer than expected for a much less pension. In no other occupation would this be tolerated. In addition, to add insult, some bishops demand that when retired priest assist by taking an occasional service, the diocese takes a substantial amount of the fees.

For an occupation that should put integrity, responsibility and loyalty, things are not what they ought to be.

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