Mourning the Church of England
Perhaps the only thing I do not miss about England is the Church of England; or rather, if I do miss the Church of England, it is with a sense not of estrangement but of bereavement, because that Church, in which I grew up and in which I was ordained, no longer exists. Many of you at St Paul’s who grew up in the old Episcopal Church have experienced a similar sense of loss at the disappearance of the Church you once knew and loved, so you will have some sense of what I mean. However, no Church in America can hold a place comparable to that which the Church of England holds in the hearts of the English: the Established Church, the National Church, the Church of our ancestors and our history, the Church which defines English culture in the same way that the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer define the English language; the Church which belongs to every Englishman, and to which every Englishman belongs (even if, generally, he does not attend its services, or attends those of another denomination!); the Church which is part of the Englishman’s birthright, like the Monarchy or the Tower of London, like Shakespeare or the White Cliffs of Dover.

The Anglican Communion as a whole is vexed by the problems of homosexuality, while the Church of England in particular is struggling with the questions of consecrating women as bishops - or rather, having agreed in principle that women shall be consecrated as bishops, is struggling with the questions of what provisions, if any, shall be made for those who cannot accept such consecrations.

As Archbishop Haverland wisely observes in the current issue of the Trinitarian, these problems are only the symptoms of an older and more deep-rooted disease, which is the confusion between divine and human authority, a failure to understand what can, and what cannot, be changed to conform with changing times. During the recent General Synod debate on the consecration of women to the episcopate, one of the partisans of women’s ordination voiced the now familiar argument: "Surely, if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would want to make use of the talents of women at every level of the life of the Church…" No argument could illustrate better the different positions from which catholics and liberals argue. For catholics, Jesus Christ is alive today, and has been alive for the past two thousand years, guiding and empowering His Church; so for catholics, the questions is not "What would Jesus Christ do if he were alive?", but rather "What reason have we to believe that Jesus Christ has now changed his mind?"


- Fr Richard Bowyer, August 2008