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England Should Be a Catholic Country again – Spectator Debate

Reportedly, according to zenit.org – March 5, 2010:

“The Reformation was bad for England, and the nation would do well to become a Catholic country again.”

This was the affirmation proposed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on Tuesday during a debate hosted by The Spectator magazine as part of its debate series. The topic under discussion was “England Should Be a Catholic Country Again,” and the cardinal — who is a retired archbishop of Westminster — was joined by author Piers Paul Read and Dom Antony Sutch, parish priest of St. Benets Catholic Church, in speaking for the motion.

Speaking against the motion were Lord Richard Harries, retired Anglican bishop of Oxford; Matthew Parris, former Conservative Member of Parliament and currently a columnist for the Times; and Stephen Pound, Labour Party Member of Parliament.

Though affirming that the Reformation “brought a tremendous loss to this country,” the core of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s contribution focused on an ecumenical vision.

The 76-year-old prelate presented this Church as one that would speak for life, the poor and all those without a voice. It would be one that defends the family and that “would continue to respect and dialogue with those who differ from us, people of other faiths, people with no faith, the agnostics and atheists. The English Church would be a strong voice, witnessing to all that is good and true. It would be a Church, sustained not only by Scripture, tradition and reason favored by the Anglican Church but, crucially, by Scripture, tradition, reason and teaching authority. It would encapsulate that authority in teaching the truth and the beauty of the Christian faith.”

“So I have given you a vision,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor concluded, “and I am an old man, with a dream of the English Church in this land which we love so much and, let me tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a dream that can be, that should be, that will be realized.”

However, the account of the debate according to catholicchurch.org.uk March 3, 2010, includes:

“Pre-Reformation England, therefore, was bad: with corrupt and worldly prelates like Cardinal Wolesey, and an uncouth and ignorant clergy. The only signs of Christian life came from the Lollards, the Protestants who rejected the mumbo-jumbo of the sacraments, read the bible in English, so all in all, England was ready for the good news of Protestantism.”

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Male Priests Marry in Anglican Church First Gay ‘Wedding’

Male Priests Marry in Anglican Gay Wedding

Two male priests exchanged vows and rings in a ceremony that was conducted using one of the church’s most traditional wedding rites – a decision seen as blasphemous by conservatives.

The ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was carried out last month in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. News of the “wedding” emerged days before a crucial summit of the Anglican Church’s conservative bishops and archbishops, who are threatening to split the worldwide Church over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Although some liberal clergy have carried out “blessing ceremonies” for homosexual couples in the past, this is the first time a vicar has performed a “wedding ceremony”, using a traditional marriage liturgy, with readings, hymns and a ­Eucharist.

Both the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican communion expressed shock last night.

The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was “blasphemous.” He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to “disintegrate”. Archbishop Orombi added: “What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

“The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching.”

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester – a powerful conservative figure – said that the service represented a wedding “in all but name”. He said: “Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion.”

The bishop said that it was up to the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, to act, adding that it would become a high-profile test case of Church authority.

“Can we stand for the clear teaching of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place,” he said.

The service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in London – one of England’s oldest churches, which featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral – and was conducted by the parish rector, the Rev Martin Dudley.

The couple, the Rev Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen’s churches, and the Rev Dr David Lord, had registered their civil partnership before the ceremony.

Mr Dudley opened the service by saying: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God’s people and between Christ and the Church.” In the vows, Mr Cowell and Dr Lord pledged to “hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part”.

Mr Dudley blessed the union with the words: “As David and Jonathan’s souls were knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made.”

Leading church figures expressed astonishment at the language and grandeur of the service, claiming that it was a highly provocative act. Although, the use of such a traditional ceremony does not constitute a marriage in the eyes of the law, Church figures on all sides said the event went further than any gay blessing ceremonies that had gone before.

The “marriage” will revive the war over homosexual clergy that has engulfed the Church since 2003 when Gene Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire and Jeffrey John, another gay cleric, who was about to become Bishop of Reading, was made to step down.

It is likely to embolden liberal clergy who have been reluctant to offer a full “wedding service” and will open the floodgates to other homosexuals who want a traditional ceremony.

Mr Dudley agreed to conduct the service despite Bishop Chartres warning that Church guidelines – drawn up when the Civil Partnerships Act was introduced – do not allow formal blessings of gay relationships. He argued that it was not a wedding but a blessing and that he was not “offering” blessing services, but responding to personal requests from friends. “I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment to one another.”

A Church of England spokesman said: “Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances. But the House of Bishops affirmed that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.”

by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

June 14, 2008

Source The Sunday Telegraph

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