Thursday, July 05, 2007

A step towards disestablishment…then secularism…

The Prime Minister has outlined plans to give up some of the royal ‘prerogative powers’ enjoyed by his predecessors, including the right to appoint bishops and deans. While much of his speech focused on powers that will be transferred to Parliament, Cranmer doesn’t quite think bishops will need to go lobbying MPs for their support. In one of the most significant Church-State developments for centuries, the responsibility will most likely be transferred to the Church of England.

By granting the Church of England operational independence, the Prime Minister simply abdicates his authority to approve or reject the names proposed by the Crown Nominations Commission. The reason given is that Mr Brown wants his government to be seen as representing ‘all faiths and all cultures’ and not tied significantly to the Church of England. This proposal raises the possibility that he might take steps to remove the right of bishops to take their seats in the House of Lords.

‘Not tied significantly’ is a phrase pregnant with implications, since the tie of the English Church to the English State has been significant indeed. If the tie becomes no more significant than that enjoyed informally by other faiths, it is a moot point as to who will crown the next monarch, and by what authority.

But there is a more concerning issue which underlies this development, and that is quite simply that the existing hierarchy of the Church of England has already demonstrated its inability to choose its leaders. A further concentration of powers will lead simply to a self-perpetuating cabal. The reason there are so few Evangelical Protestants in the Church of England hierarchy is that very few are deemed to be theologically, spiritually, or pastorally in tune with the ‘mainstream’ of Liberal-Catholicism. It is therefore the Liberal-Catholic wing which will dominate all future appointments, and it will ensure that it retains that power. Interestingly, a Synod report of 2001 foresaw these developments:

Some of those who have made submissions to us have expressed a wish for an electoral system more comparable with those of other Anglican churches to be adopted in the Church of England. The submissions made to us do not, however, suggest that such a change would enjoy widespread support, nor would we favour such a change. What we have said about vocation in paras 1.19–1.26 above means that we would not be happy with a system which allowed public campaigning by or on behalf of candidates, in which candidates were publicly identified, or in which consideration was restricted to those willing to stand for election and appear before the electors… These factors would not apply to an electoral college system such as those practised in Ireland and Wales, but we do not believe that, at least in the English context, the careful and frank discussion which is possible in a small commission could take place in a meeting of around 50 people.

At the moment, the Commission consists of people who are part of, or are appointed by, the existing hierarchy. The process of putting two names to the Prime Minister, of which one is chosen by him and sent to the Queen, is a relatively recent innovation made by James Callaghan. Prior to that, the Church had very little input at all. The last thing the oligarchy desires is democracy, especially when it comes to appointing those who will work alongside, and one day replace, them.

In actual fact, the appointments process is already almost entirely controlled by the existing bishops. The Commission draws up the names that will go forward for 'preferment', but the hierarchy itself draws up the list of clergy who are considered to be suitable. Most diocesan bishops are already appointed from existing suffragans, and suffragans are appointed by diocesan bishops. The system is already a self-perpetuating oligarchy. If one takes a view which is contrary to the ‘mainstream’, potential suffragans are simply informed that they are not suitable, or ‘not ready’ for preferment.

Mr Brown may simply want to be rid of an inconvenience or an anachronistic anomaly. Being a Presbyterian Scot, he wouldn’t mind too much at all what befalls the Church of England. But that other meddlesome Scot, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said: ‘I am deeply disappointed at the statement from Gordon Brown. I remain deeply concerned that the Act of Settlement will continue to exist and believe it constitutes state-sponsored sectarianism… I wrote to Gordon Brown in April 2006 following comments he made on the role of the Prime Minister in the selection of Church of England bishops to say that the terms of the Act of Settlement were anachronistic and that it was an outstanding example of bigotry and sectarianism in the United Kingdom…but did not receive a reply.’

Let us hope that the silence is maintained. What, after all, hath Rome to do with Canterbury?


Anonymous Voyager said...

Play with the Act of Settlement 1701 and the 1707 Act of Union unravels quite rapidly. Then again play with the line of Succession of the Monarchy by tampering with The Act of Settlement and the whole role of The Crown in Parliament unravels.

Maybe the polity that was England will is Scosmen in control of England that have brought disaster - Stuarts, Ramsay MacDonald and Blair-Brown....

The Act of Settlement was to resolve the threat of civil war but now the Scots Catholic hierarchy seeks to replay the old Jacobite theme anew.

The only attraction of such a course would be the re-establishment of a Cromwellian Republic and a Protestant Puritanism throughout the New Establishment....Prince Charles could no doubt be relied upon to be the last monarch as Charles I managed, and Charles II worked hard to achieve; no doubt Charles III would choose exile.

It is funny how docile the English are as their country is handed over to Scottish is rather clear how poorly education they are in their heritage and how readily they sell their birthright for a mess of potage.

Then again it does not take many thousand people to leave these shores for Income Tax revenues to collapse....there are probably 400,000 people or fewer paying most of the income tax in Britain

5 July 2007 at 08:54  
Anonymous worried said...

The "Church" of Rome will not be satisfied until it has "re-evangelised" the UK, ie thrown us back to a medieval mindset of owing allegiance to Rome (and its pawn, the EU). Then two foreign religions (the Romans and the Mohammedans) will fight for the spoils.

As for who will crown the next monarch? Easy, there won't be one. We will just be vassal regions of the EU. No need for a monarchy, So last century, you know.

5 July 2007 at 09:08  
Blogger Perry Neeham said...

Voyager and Worried: what's the weather like on your planet?

5 July 2007 at 09:48  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Perry Neeham

* Age: 46
* Gender: Male
* Astrological Sign: Leo
* Zodiac Year: Rat
* Industry: Consulting
* Location: Midlands : United Kingdom

About Me

Deep down I'm really shallow.

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Know Thyself.....and Perry does

5 July 2007 at 11:10  
Blogger Harry Hook said...

Voyager and Worried made perfect sense to me, Perry.

As for your blog ...TROUSER BROWSER - Sex is like crime, it's 90% opportunity. And technology allows for so much MORE opportunity.

...well, you've go me there mate. Eh?

5 July 2007 at 12:05  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

Ahh worried, you have discovered our secret plan to bring the UK back to Rome. I was just talking to Papa Benedict last week and he said to me "Recusant", he said "how’s the plans coming along to drag the UK back from its heresy, we have to re-evangelised the UK and force it into the EU so we can fight over it with those infidel Mohammedans you know"
"Benny" I said (we on the inside along with the secret alliance of murdering albino monks and pregnant nuns, its all the orgies you know) get to call him Benny, "Benny" says I on our second bottle of château neuf du pape (what else), "we've already got the blogger 'Worried', worried, and Voyager has cleverly perceived our attack on the Act of Settlement and with the interfering Scottish Cardinal (like the play we never say his name) we will succeed, either that or it's another 50 barrels of gunpowder under Westminster.

And I would have done it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids...Hardy-har-har [evil laugh]

5 July 2007 at 13:20  
Blogger Harry Hook said...

"or it's another 50 barrels of gunpowder under Westminster."

You'll never get 'elf & safety to sanction that!

5 July 2007 at 13:35  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The recusant forgets that the Jacobites were destroyed and the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots day the Papacy will be held by a Lutheran.

After all the greatest Roman Catholic of them all was Martin Luther who was expelled for telling the truth and bearing witness

5 July 2007 at 13:41  
Blogger Jomo said...

Liberal-catholic like christian- socialist is more an oxymoron than a description of sensible people.

Unfortunately for the takeover theory Cardinal Keith is a bit of a liberal himself. Now he probably fancies his own chances of preferment. Banging on about the Act of Settlement with a view to doing sonething sensible with the House of Hanover is hardly likely to get him very far given the current "two men most likely to succeed." But there's nothing like a bit of publicity when there a good job on the horizon.

Seriously though,the Church of England abandoned the people of England a long time ago. Another foreign ruler joining Canterbury and York will do little to revive a failing institution. De-nationalisation at least gives the punters a chance to do something to sort out the mess.

5 July 2007 at 14:44  
Blogger Cato, author of said...

If Gordon Brown wishes to renounce his say-so as PM on Church of England bishops, then let him give the power back to HM so that she can make decisions herself personally (acting under the advice of her courtiers). I'm sure she would do an excellent job, and such a change would reassert the role of the Crown as Defender of the Faith.

5 July 2007 at 16:16  
Blogger Edward said...

Excellent point, Cato.

5 July 2007 at 16:47  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Cato,

There is a slight problem with your otherwise excellent suggestion...

The next monarch may be a closet Muslim. Where would that leave his discernment?

5 July 2007 at 18:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The next monarch may be a closet Muslim.

He would have to be removed by Parliament under The Act of Settlement

5 July 2007 at 19:38  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Voyager,

He may remain in the closet, rather like the Romeward leaning Mr Blair, in order to avoid any constitutional trauma.

Or, indeed, he may be fashionable, and profess to be a Muslim (ie, one 'in submission to God') and still 'in communion' with the Church of England.

5 July 2007 at 19:57  
Blogger Livingsword said...

May I suggest that the next monarch may actually be one that indulges in self worship?

5 July 2007 at 20:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as a High Tory Catholic - no doubt His Grace will think such a thing a contradiction in terms - I am perfectly happy to confess that I believe in the reconversion of England to its ancient Catholic faith.

What seems odd to me about your blog is that if you Protestants are so sure your faith is true, you express an awful lot of fear about it being vanquished.

Perhaps this is because you lack the Catholic trust in the words of Our Lord to St Peter and his successors 'On this rock I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' N.B He said 'my Church' - not 'my Church of England/another particular nation'. Sounds a silly point, but yr faith seems very nationalistic for 'Go ye and teach all nations'.

I can understand yr being anti-'Bloody Mary', but most RCs think she was a disaster too; she obviously did far more for Protestantism than for the RC Church in the long-term by giving you so many martyrs and us a thoroughly bad press.

But perhaps in the interests of historical accuracy - not to say fair play - you should point out that the Oxford martyrs Cranmer, Ridley & Latimer also all believed in burning those they considered heretics. It would have been odd if they didn't in those days. Latimer had even presided over a jolly feast at the roasting of an RC friar over a spit (check Eamonn Duffy 'The Stripping of the Altars' if my memory is correct) - you''ll think it's Roman propaganda because he's both RC & a 'mick'. But his sources were good enough to make the editor of Crockford's admit that the Whig interpretation of history vis-a-vis the Reformation required revision.

PS: to somebody who claimed Luther was 'the greatest Catholic of all'. Er, no. Leaving aside his dismissal of the epistle of James as 'straw' after having said he believed in 'sola scriptura' - airbrushed out of the Jena edition by his followers (and several other logical contradictions), have you read his jolly little tome 'The Jews and their Lies'? That recommends the burning down of synagogues and the enslavement of the Jews. No wonder Hitler called him 'a hero of German nationalism' (see Speer's Inside the Third Reich).

Finally on disestablishment: Edward Norman (now corrupted by Rome, of course); 'Establishment is the ice which keeps the corpse from decomposing.' Said before he took Peter's Pence (as you would see it), but you always knew he was a crypto,I suppose.

I hope you will not think this uncharitable, but I admit to finding your blog pretty unpleasant in its bigoted caricature of the Church I love and depressing in its 'doom & gloom' atmosphere.

Proper debate is one thing - paranoid accusation is another. Some of your stuff about Rome is just rehashed old Protestant libel.

Don't forget 'Hope' or 'Charity'. they come after Faith - as you will know from your Bible studies. But I guess if you believe in salvation by faith alone they seem less important.

Sorry for preaching at you without a licence.


5 July 2007 at 20:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And note that all the Acts make mention of "no allegiance shall be owed or given", which means all Acts of Parliament (given Royal Assent) are thus invalidated to whit it means the 50 Barrels of Gunpowder under Parliament would not break any law even those of Traitor Blair...onwards to London.

5 July 2007 at 20:38  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

Mr Anonymous (Catholicus)

Normally, I accordance with His Graces wishes I would not reply to an Anonymous poster, but as a co-religionist I urge you to discard your cloak of secrecy and adopt your presumed nom de plume ‘Catholicus’ so that we can enjoy your natural wit and talent more regularly on this blog. It can be a bit Rome bashing at times but let’s face it, we stared out in the coliseum and these separated brethren are deserving of our charity at least. (I’m trying to drum up a bit of support here), so what say you, we are what, after all, hath Rome to do with Canterbury.

5 July 2007 at 21:50  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Catholicus,

His Grace welcomes you to his august blog of intelligent and erudite comment upon matters religio-political, and is pleased that Mr Recusant has found a friend. He is pleased that you find his blog to be bigoted (though he would appreciate a definition), yet puzzled that you find it depressing (presumably more than the Catholic media output).

With the imminent re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass, His Grace is interested to hear that once more you will be praying for the conversion of the 'perfidious Jews'. Not that this is in any sense a riposte to your allusion to the anti-Semitic tome of Martin Luther, but His Grace would like to know why the Jews are singled out for conversion, when the Mohammedans may be far more deserving. Is this bigotry? It is, at the very least, somewhat discriminatory. And what of the idolatrous Hindus and Sikhs? Are they not deserving of your prayers for conversion?

But what, pray, is a 'High Tory'?

5 July 2007 at 22:19  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

With the Scotch Presbyterian on one side & the Scotch RC on the other, and the fools of Anglican bishops in the middle, what hope is there for the poor old C of E. Oh alas, alas!

5 July 2007 at 22:20  
Blogger Newmania said...

Pleased to notice your Grace shares my enthusiasm for Boris Johnson .Let us hope brave Sir Boris evades the serpent Livingstone`s encircling scaly deceit and runs his black heart through with the lightning bright sword of truth and Conservatism.

On the matter of the thread its a tad beyond me but weren’t the Jacobites Tories, I thought we liked them ?Otherwise it makes my temples throb in an attractive Woosterish way. I `m pretty sure myself that the bits and bobs were thrown in the air to distract attention from the slither and omission of business as usual. No referendum no English votes and further regionalisation.

5 July 2007 at 23:15  
Blogger Vol-in-Law said...

These days I kinda wish the EU really was a Catholic plot, rather than a Marxist plot, *sigh*.

6 July 2007 at 00:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Anonymous - you are well-named - my reference was NOT to the wife of the King of Spain but to the French-speaking Queen of Scotland

6 July 2007 at 05:44  
Anonymous Voyager said...

but weren’t the Jacobites Tories, I thought we liked them

I thought Tory was a term of abuse based on Scottish cattle rustling, and that Jacobites were responsible for an uprising in 1715 and in 1745 put down by English your Tories must have been allied to the Catholic Stuart Monarchy and against 1688 no doubt opposing the Bill of Rights and Act of Settlement

6 July 2007 at 05:51  
Anonymous Voyager said...

if you Protestants are so sure your faith is true, you express an awful lot of fear about it being vanquished.

Protestants know what it took to establish Protestantism in this land - a Civil War and the prospect of a second - and much strife. That civil war may be a future prospect should daunt most people, but the pre-conditions are established - a complete rejection of the institutions of this land, a sense of anger and revulsion at the state of affairs, and a very divided and fractious land with no faith in the instutions and personalities.

Foreboding is not an unnatural state when one considers dismantling of the structures that held the country together and prevented the threat of civil war until at least the Curragh Mutiny

6 July 2007 at 05:56  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

You’re Grace,

The text of the Latin Mass is based on the Tridentine Mass promulgated by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Originally this mass contained a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of "the perfidious Jews."

However in the 1960s, after his historic meeting with the historian and Holocaust survivor Jules Isaac, Pope John XXIII ordered this terminology removed, and the version that will be used dates back to 1962, when this phrase had already been eliminated.

I’m surprised your grace was taken in by this oft repeated canard.

6 July 2007 at 07:58  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Recusant,

His Grace was aware of the development to which you refer, but was rather hoping that Mr Catholicus might have taken the bait. It was, incidentally, only the word 'perfidious' which was excised. Prayers for the conversion of the Jews remain, and are therefore once again sanctioned by Papa Benedict. His Grace simply wanted Mr Catholicus to explain why this does not amount to bigotry.

Of course, he will not respond, because he cannot.

6 July 2007 at 08:23  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

In which case Your Grace we are in the good bigoted company of St. Paul and indeed all the Gospel writers who repeatedly referred to the Jew in such terms. I prefer to think of the Jews in the same light of the Great JPII, "Our elder brothers in the faith"

I do hope Mr Catholicus returns to the frey, even Mr Bob seems to be on sabbatical; I'm a voice in the wilderness.

6 July 2007 at 09:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

IV. And whereas the laws of England are the birth-right of the people thereof, and all the Kings and Queens, who shall ascend the throne of this Realm, ought to administer the government of the same according to the said laws, and all their officers and ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same: the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do therefore further humbly pray, That all the laws and statutes of this Realm for securing the established religion, and the rights and liberties of the people thereof, and all other laws and statutes of the same now in force, may be ratified and confirmed, and the same are by His Majesty, by and with the advice of the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, and by authority of the same, ratified and confirmed accordingly.

Act of Settlement 1701

6 July 2007 at 09:53  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

The Good Friday prayers in your Grace's own book ask for the conversion of Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks - pretty comprehensive and even-handed.

6 July 2007 at 13:52  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Infidels and Hereticks

The C of E mentions the Roman Catholics whereas the Tridentine Mass does not.....

6 July 2007 at 14:42  
Anonymous bob said...

In answer to Cranmer`s concerns regarding Catholic bigotry against Jews in the liturgy for Good Friday in the Pian (Tridentine) rite, I would direct his attention to the quotation from Pope Benedict`s letter below:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of Latin rite, whether secular or religious, can use the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970, on any day except in the Sacred Triduum. For celebration in accordance with one or the other Missal, a priest does not require any permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor his own Ordinary.

As he can see the text he is concerned about has not been given permission for use, as Good Friday falls within the Sacred Triduum, so no offence will be directed towards those of the Jewish faith. I hope he is pleased.

7 July 2007 at 20:44  
Blogger John said...

Does his grace believe it wrong to pray for the conversion of others to Christ, regardless of their religion? Considering Christ called the Jews to come and follow himself, perhaps we shouldn't disagree with him? Such prayers do not express anti-semitism, indeed, as the Church owes the faith it has to Yeshua of Nazareth, the Prophets and Patriarchs, and indeed "Abraham, our father in faith," she is more reliant and devoted to her Jewish heritage than any other gentiles!

28 July 2007 at 18:41  

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