Friday 26 March 2010

The Pope, An Anglican Archbishop and a Journalist

If the Pope's machine is found to be lying, then the Pope surely is finished.

An Archbishop wrote to the Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger to take action against a US priest Rev Lawrence Murphy who had molested up to 200 deaf boys between 1950 and 1974. The priest not only was not defrocked, but he died and was placed in an open coffin in full vestments.

Ratzinger's job as Cardinal was to deal with sex abuse cases. When he was Archbishop in Germany he received a memo (and may have led a meeting) about another, earlier, case, over which nothing was done.

All this means that if Ratzinger as Pope needs to discipline others, he would have to discipline himself. Resignation might be a good idea.

Then there is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nope, he's done nothing, but there is a whiff of others getting into a form of ecclesiastical bullying towards him. You get the feeling that all the glorying of the Archbishop from the tiny Fulcrum group has been at a price that they are now charging. They have put him on a box, and given him the support of a rope, which seems to have the shape of a noose at the end. The box could be kicked. Why?

Although decisive action is necessary, Archbishop Rowan’s limited powers within the Communion and his laudable desire to keep on going the extra mile to enable dialogue mean many think it unlikely. Some long ago gave up on him. Many, however, both within the Church of England and the wider Communion (particularly in the Global South which meets next month) have been patient and sought to work with him by supporting the Windsor and covenant processes. They need now to make clear that unless he gives a clear lead then all that he and others have worked for since the Windsor Report and all that is promised by the covenant is at risk because of the new situation in which TEC has placed us.

That is the language of threat from a pressure group. If I was Archbishop (and for several reasons I would not be!) I would ignore this pressure group. I return to the lecture Rowan Williams gave in Lincoln:

Some of the contemporary cultural crises confront us in understanding, remembering and wanting, and involve how we try to deny the problem is posed, and also can show how we as people of faith recover our direction and enter into the fullness of our humanity [on this journey].

This affects our Christian understanding too: "We've lost a great deal of our doctrinal uncertainty, however loudly we may shout about it." [Rowan Williams] We have lost a sense that we can confidently trace the works of God and confidently relay to the world what God has said.

We deny this sometimes by slipping back into tribal, moralising and noisy forms of faith which never quite come to terms with the huge crisis and challenge in the middle of it all. We've lost a lot of our bearings.... He [the present Pope] doesn't mean rational procedures as much as a loss of patience with argument, real mutual persuasion and careful argument which might enlarge our minds to receive more of the truth.

Having said these words, why give in to the tribal bureaucrats of Fulcrum, a group whose unstinting support for the proposed Covenant now seems to be limited to it carrying out the group's own sectional agenda?

And, as for the journalist: more charging a price. I'd like to give an early goodbye to Ruth Gledhill as her own Pope cuts off The Times Online behind an entrance charge in order to see it and its journalism. I certainly won't be paying. Why pay for something that is obtainable in other ways? Ruth Gledhill has herself said before, I think, that because of blogging by those involved, the number of travels she needs to make as a journalist has fallen. She is left at base to use her imagination, and what use is her imagination? I have my own, which I shall display here free of charge, which I know is still too expensive for some people. Still, from time to time I chuck in some original drawings, but not this time (they have all been used before).

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