Monday 22 June 2015

A Church which has lost its way

Following the introduction of the same sex marriage act, the Church of England decided that clergy should not take part in any such union. This was declared policy which clergy were expected to accept.

There have been cases in which clergy have ignored this policy and have been allowed to go without being disciplined. This is because those in authority within the Church have not the courage to act, lest it upset too many people. In consequence this has caused caustic comment from a Judge at an Employment Tribunal.

A priest went through a same sex ceremony in direct opposition to his Bishop and his licence to officiate in the Church was withdrawn
When re-applied this was refused he appealed to an Employment Tribunal.

This man has no cause to go crying (literally) to the Tribunal. He knows the Church’s position and deliberately went against it. He was quite free to resign, quite apart from the fact that the Bible, which the Church is SUPPOSED to adhere to, lays down clearly marriage requires a woman.

But criticism must be made, and has indeed been by the Tribunal Judge against the Archbishop of Canterbury, he is the head of the Church of England and has stated previously he is against same sex marriage, and having accepted the Office he should accept the responsibilities it entails.
At the Tribunal the Bishop, who rightly refused him a licence, was asked if the ‘hot potato’ issue of a clergyman marrying another man had been delegated by the Archbishop to avoid a Church split, and by allowing individual bishops to deal with a refusal to obey the church’s rule was done politically. The Bishop gave a diplomatic evasive answer.
The Judge thought there had been no strong disapproval from the Church, rather curiously, and wondered if the Archbishop passed it on as the church was so vocal over the social and political climate of the country, and should be seen in the context when the Archbishop was tackling an agenda of austerity food banks, etc.
This was fair comment when the Archbishop has been rather more positive on those subjects.

The Judge went on to say the church had a significant gay community and this had to be juggled with the fact that other parts of the Anglican Church, the ethnic minority churches and the evangelical section of the Church would have a different view. A problem would arise if the issue of same sex marriage were to be dealt with strongly. He thought the Archbishop had an agenda in which the church’s place in a society that sees itself to be increasingly unequal in context , so decided to leave it alone, and so consequently the Bishop had it passed on to himself.

It was disappointing that Bishop Inwood let himself down, and the Church, when he was asked by counsel whether he thought the priest (Pemberton) had committed a sinful act, and said he couldn’t decide. Bishop Inwood claims to be a strong evangelical and was once on the staff of the country’s leading evangelical Church in London. He should, based on Bible teaching, have said he did.

From this sorry episode it can be seen why people think the Church has nothing to offer them. We are on God’s business and as such should not be offering shoddy goods. If we are not preaching that which God Himself laid down for us in Holy Scripture, we have no grounds for existence. The only place for the Church in society is to offer a way of life which is so different from that of the world, holy, honourable, and hopeful for now and for all eternity.

In addition to the shame brought on the Church in this story, we had the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church preaching in Westminster Abbey, well known for her liberal views, and a Canon of York Minster giving a blessing to a Gay Pride March in that city.

I read a report that the maverick Bishop of Buckingham described doctrine that he swore to teach and pass on as being ‘lousy.’ If this be true, it shows the depths the Church has sunk to when it allows a man who is prepared to break the oath he swore, continue to hold high Office in the Church and draw the consequent high salary. If the said bishop did make this comment, and still has the intention to remain in office, apart from showing complete disregard for the Church and all its more honourable members, he brings disgrace and dishonour on himself and the Church. In any well run organisation he would not have had the option of resigning.

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