- Archbishop warns Wonga on loans (bbc.co.uk)
Every Church of England cleric who could be promoted to become a bishop is to be asked to provide details of their sex life to the Archbishop of Canterbury or York, it has emerged.
In an effort to avoid “the appearance of discrimination” against gay priests – who are required to claim to be celibate if they are in civil partnerships – all future candidates for the episcopate will also be subject to a “test” to ensure they have no sexual skeletons in the closet.
Before they can be considered for a mitre they will have to persuade an archbishop that they are not involved in activity which might be considered sinful – and are not planning to do so.
The questioning, likely to be conducted by a serving bishop on behalf of one of the two archbishops, is to determine whether their private life “is and will remain consistent with the teaching of the Church of England”.
Church teaching only permits sex between a husband and wife and explicitly rules out any kind of gay or lesbian sex, extra-marital affairs or, officially at least, cohabiting couples sleeping together before marriage.
But some passages in the book of Leviticus are much more detailed: specifying a ban on sexual relations with various “beasts” or humans if they are members of the extended family.
It is unlikely, however, that these will fall within the scope of the Church of England’s hiring procedures.
Details of the new requirement emerged in a written answer to a question before the Church’s governing General Synod.
It follows the disclosure last month that, under new arrangements agreed by the House of Bishops, people in same-sex civil partnerships must satisfy either the Archbishop of Canterbury or York that they are not sleeping with their partner before they can become a bishop.
Similar arrangements are in place for divorced clergy being considered for episcopal appointment.
The Rev Canon Giles Goddard of St John’s church in Waterloo, central London, asked why such “assurances” are sought only from clerics in civil partnerships or divorcees.
William Fittall, the Secretary General to the General Synod, replied that the questions for divorcees were are “to determine that there are no issues from the breakdown of the previous marriage that might constitute an obstacle to episcopal appointment”.
He added: “In relation to civil partnership the test is of a different character namely whether someone’s conduct is and will remain consistent with the teaching of the Church of England.
But, he explained: “To avoid the appearance of discrimination that assurance is in fact now sought in relation to all candidates for episcopal appointment.”
Archbishop of Westminster attacks gay marriage plan
A furious row has erupted among members of the clergy after a Church of England priest branded the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, a “w****r” for resisting the government’s attempts to legalise gay marriage.
The attack, by the Revd Marcus Ranshaw, came after Archbishop Welby warned that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would effectively “abolish” the traditional institution of marriage, the “cornerstone” of society.
In an angry posting on Facebook last night, the Revd Ramshaw, a supporter of gay marriage, wrote: “what really upsets me is nasty people such as Justin Welby robbing me of my faith in the church, he does not speak in my name and i think he is a wanker, but im not going to stop being a christian or a priest.”
But he was swiftly taken to task by the Revd Arun Arora, the Director of Communications for the Church of England, who posted: “Calling another Christian a w****r doesn’t work for me as a priestly response,” and went on to add: “I think any right-minded person would find a priest calling his archbishop an onanist to be utterly outrageous.”
The row has since escalated, with Revd Ramshaw accusing Archbishop Welby of having “a nasty, ill-judged opinion on homosexual relations” which has divided the church into “bitterness and anger.”
Regarding his choice of language, he admitted: “i accept that that term was wrong and for that i am sorry, but i hope he knows how much hurt he is doing to faithful, loyal christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In response, the Revd Arora accused his fellow priest of being “ungracious and a liar who breaks his promises” for not readily apologising.
Speaking to The Independent the Revd Ramshaw, a former associate vicar at St Edward King and Martyr Church in Cambridge, said: “I inadvertently said the Archbishop of Canterbury was a w****r in one single line…it was not a public platform, it was a personal post which I deleted at the request of the director of communications for the Church of England. I am genuinely sorry that I got cross for one second and just put in that one word.”
The priest added: “Why should I be so taken to task about this?…I have made a complaint to Facebook and reported him for threatening behaviour. I intend to make a complaint to Church House…this is not a way to treat any Christian…it is bullying, it’s nasty and it’s horrible and I will construct a complaint on that basis.”
Lambeth Palace would not comment on the row, but in a statement to The Independent, Revd Arora said: “The issue of same Sex Marriage is an emotive one. There are a variety of views within the Church and much of that debate takes place online.
“I don’t think calling someone a ‘w****r’ is the best way of engaging. Whilst I am sure this will be water off a duck’s back for Archbishop Justin, I think it was right to challenge Marcus’ approach.”
article from the “Independent” newspaper
No PR agency in the world could sell the disturbing message of a broken man on the cross. That’s why we get Jesus-lite
One thing you learn pretty quickly as a priest taking primary school assemblies is that, according to the under fives, there is no question that cannot be appropriately answered with the word Jesus. Obviously, anything faintly religious must be answered in that way. But other questions too. “What is the capital of France?”, “What is the price of a loaf of bread?”, “What is the name of your sister?”.
In every class there is always some little mite who enthusiastically sticks up their hand, bursting with confidence. Jesus, they say, proudly, when chosen.
After a while, if you say a word enough, over and over again, it loses its meaning. It even begins to sound a little different. Jesus morphs into Cheesus – the es getting steadily elongated. Those who talk about Cheesus do so with a creepy sort of chummyiness. This is what evangelicals call “a personal relationship”, by which they mean that Cheesus has become their boyfriend or best mate.
And when such people speak of Cheesus they have to wear that sickly smile too. It’s that I-know-something-you-don’t smile. Patronising, superior and faux caring all at the same time. And if you disagree with them they will pray for you. It makes you want to bang your head against a brick wall.
Once again, the evangelicals are in the ascendency in the Church of England. Rowan Williams never spoke of Cheesus. He had way too much gravitas. Which was why so many non-Christians respected him. And, to be fair, Justin Welby doesn’t do that either – but I worry that he does have a slight weakness in that direction. After all, that is the stable of the church he hails from. And if he does lapse into Cheesus-speak, heaven save him from Rowan Atkinson, whose Red Nose day satire was a little too close for comfort.
Welby, however, does have one important inoculation against Cheesus. He has personal experience of tragedy and Cheesus cannot deal with tragedy. Which is why, for the worst sort of Cheesus-loving evangelicals, the cross of Good Friday is actually celebrated as a moment of triumph. This is theologically illiterate. Next week, in the run up to Easter, Christianity goes into existential crisis. It fails.
The disciples run away, unable to cope with the impossible demands placed upon them. The hero they gave up everything to follow is exposed to public ridicule and handed over to Roman execution. And the broken man on the cross begins to fear that God is no longer present.
The fact that this is not the end of the story does not take away from the fact that tragedy will always be folded into the experience of faith. Even the resurrected Jesus bears the scars of his suffering. A man who has been through something like that will never smile that cheesy smile or think of faith as some sunny suburban upspeak.
Justin Welby is the theological product of Holy Trinity Brompton, the Old Etonian-run church next to Harrods that brought the world the Alpha Course and doubles up as a posh dating agency for west London singles. They are brilliant at PR and have pots of money. And if Christianity is all about success, then you have it hand it to them.
But the problem with PR Christianity is that it can easily transform Jesus into Cheesus, which is a form of Jesus-lite, a romantic infatuation, a Mills & Boon theology that makes you feel all warm inside. The Gospels, however, tell an altogether more disturbing story. And there is no PR agency in the world that could sell the message of a man who told his followers that they too would have to go the way of the cross. That’s the problem with Cheesus. He won’t really suffer and he doesn’t ever die.
Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who crowned the present Queen, said this to Harold Macmillan about the possibility of Michael Ramsey succeeding him as ABC:
“I have come to give you some advice about my successor. Whoever you choose, under no account must it be Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of York. Dr Ramsey is a theologian, a scholar and a man of prayer. Therefore, he is entirely unsuitable as Archbishop of Canterbury.”
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