14 April 2014
Those people who follow Anglican matters will be aware that the Archbishop of Canterbury took part in a phone-in programme recently, on which he made some very controversial remarks about the consequences for the people of Africa, if the Church of England decided to approve of same sex marriage. This has been widely reported. On the whole, I thought that Archbishop Welby performed rather well on the programme, despite having to discuss some issues that are very divisive for the Church of England. He came across as a very well meaning person, trying to grapple with some very difficult issues. It was clear to me that he was torn between the desire to uphold his personal orthodox beliefs, which were formed in the evangelical wing of the Church of England, and the need to be a credible leader of an increasingly liberal Church where almost everything goes. However, there was another notable comment made by the archbishop. In discussing the matter of women bishops, he enthusiastically supported their ordination, and looked forward to the first appointment, which he expected would be in early 2015. Then he came to the point. When asked what would become of those in the church who did not accept women bishops, he said "A few will go to the Catholic Church .... to the Ordinariate". So the archbishop expects the Ordinariate to benefit from a few who will leave the Church of England in the next year or so. I presume that the archbishop, when using the phrase a few, is talking in proportionate terms - that is not many in relation to the total membership of the C of E. Maybe less than one per cent. Are we talking of 1,000 or maybe 10,000? We do not know, but I think it will be in this range, and a disproportionate number of them will be clergy.
07 April 2014
There is some really excellent news from the Diocese of Lancaster. Bishop Campbell has handed over the church of St Walburge in Preston, Lancashire to the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Like its counterpart in New Brighton, it will be a shrine church dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. Although it will be staffed by the Institute, and will provide daily Masses in the extraordinary form, it will operate within a parish served by a priest of the diocese. St Walburge's church is best known for its high spire, in fact it is the highest of any parish church in England, only surpassed by Salisbury Cathedral. It is a very large church built in the Gothic style in the middle of the 19th century and can be seen for up to 10 miles away. It is unusual for a Gothic church of that size, in that it has no side aisles, and consequently the sanctuary is clearly visible from every seat. The church was one of the architectural masterpieces of Joseph Aloysius Hansom, whose other works include the church of the Holy Name in Manchester and the cathedral in Arundel. Joseph Aloysius Hansom was a native of York, but first became famous for his design of the City Hall in Birmingham, which was in the classical style. His name is preserved in another achievement of his, the Hansom cab. He designed many churches, mostly Catholic and of more modest proportions, including St George's in York, Sacred Heart in Howden and St John the Evangelist in Easingwold. The Institute of Christ the king will be taking over at St Walberge's towards the end of the year.
01 April 2014
One of the things that impressed me about the procession through the streets of York, was the respect shown by bystanders, most of whom would probably never have seen such a procession before. Many were obviously tourists, and they were easily identified by their keenness to take photographs. With very few exceptions, the general public were extremely courteous, usually moving out of the way to allow the procession to pass through the very narrow streets. Of course, the procession passed a number of pubs, and it was outside these that the odd cat call or mocking remark was heard. Very close to the end, the procession passed in front of the door of a pub, temporally blocking the entrance. As I was passing, a rather hefty and heavily tattooed man was emerging who appeared a little the worse for drink. I expected trouble, but was surprised to see that he, and a woman who was with him, held back in the doorway and joined in saying the rosary.
The Pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret Clitherow and the York Martyrs took place last Saturday, and by all accounts was a great success. The Solemn Mass at St Wilfrid's Church in York was celebrated by Fr Michael Brown of the Hexham and Newcastle Diocese, with Fr John Cahill of the Nottingham Diocese as Deacon and Fr Stephen Brown of the Leeds Diocese as Sub-deacon. Music was provided by the Rudgate Singers, who sang Mozart's Missa Brevis. The Mass was followed by the customary procession through the streets of York with recitation of the Rosary led by the various clergy. The procession paused outside the house in The Shambles, which is the shrine to Margaret Clitherow, and on Ouse Bridge, close to the place of her execution. A statue of Margaret Clitherow, beautifully decorated with flowers, was carried throughout the procession, and there were also banners. The procession returned to St Wilfrid's Church via Lendel Bridge for Solemn Benediction, after which tea and refreshments were served. No pictures of the event have yet appeared on the internet, although, no doubt they will do soon. Look out for them on the LMS Chairman's Blog and on the main LMS website.