Friday 8 May 2020

Choice phrases from a Church of England Bishop's letter to priests, concerning the birdemic

Following from my previous selection; the following phrases are from a non-public letter - there is no web-link. You will just have to trust me about accuracy; or not. Quotes are in plain text; my interpretative comments and emphasis are in italics:

For many people, the restrictions imposed on the use of church buildings has been of particular concern, and a source of sadness.

 Sadness... Well, of course, the sadness of priests is primary. Laity... not so much. And sadness is, of course, the main thing; not - errr - salvation, or anything of that sort.

The House of Bishops has now agreed that individual diocesan bishops can issue guidance about the first stage of a gradual easing of restrictions on the use of church buildings, whilst keeping our church buildings closed.

Only essential buildings are remaining open in the UK (such as bicycle shops); and the House of Bishops does not regard churches as essential - hence they need to remain closed.

Incumbents and priests in charge, or area deans where there is no incumbent, can in consultation with their churchwardens and bearing in mind their specific location, appoint one person for each church in their benefice to enter that church building...

Other organisations like supermarkets can have plenty of people inside their buildings; but not churches. In churches only an appointed person may enter. Because... well... presumably because of the danger that if two or three are gathered together - something Christian may occur. 

The appointed person should be entering the church building for any or all of the following (i) pray the Daily Office and/or celebrate the Eucharist on behalf of the community they serve, (ii) live stream or pre-record worship, (iii) ring one bell to mark prayers being said or mark events (e.g. Clap for Carers...)

Because the modern Church of England's focus of worship is the National Health Service?

...The church should be near to where the appointed person lives and a visit should generally be part of their daily exercise....

In other words; priests must choose between visiting church and exercise. Other workers are 'allowed' to exercise in addition to travelling to and from work; but not priests.

Only the appointed person (and any of their household) should enter and the door should be locked.

Because it is vital to keep people out of the churches.

Consideration should be given to what cleaning will be needed to make our churches safe (e.g. bat, mice and rat faeces, mould spores, dust, legionella disease in water systems, as well as disinfecting gates and door handles etc). This will need to be done by the appointed person.

The priest may pray the daily office or celebrate Eucharist; but only if there is time left-over after sweeping-up the bat faeces...

When adopting this guidance, our priority must be to act responsibly and safeguard ourselves and other people from infection.

Yes, we understand. The Bishop's priority is this world and not the next, the material and not the spiritual, safety of bodies but indifference to souls. 

We get it. Really, we do.


John Fitzgerald said...

Disappointing, depressing, and staggering really. The bureaucratic language this is written in is repulsive and vile, I just don't know where all this 'abundance of caution' stuff is coming from in the C of E and who's driving it and why. Apart from Satan, of course. Because, make no mistake, he's the big winner here.

The C of E is writing itself out of the national conversation for decades to come due to the pusillanimity of its leadership. And that's not just my view. It's the understanding of numerous Anglicans I follow on Twitter - e.g. John Milbank, Angela Tilby, and Marcus Walker, the rector of Great St. Bartholemew's in London, who wrote a great piece in The Critic this week on the inestimable value of scared, public, spaces. Milbank believe that Welby and other liberal evangelicals are at war with this whole theology of sacred space and want to replace it with a 'home church' way of doing things. C-19, on this view, gives them the perfect opportunity to push the envelope and inaugurate (as Tilby writes in today's Church Times) a tame, middle-class, domesticated, 'members-only' church, far from the 'front line' and utterly irrelevant to the plight of people in Britan today, in whatever way we're suffering from C-19 - healthwise, economic, social, etc.

Contrast this with the attitude of Fr. Alexander Sherbrooke of St. Patrick's RC Church in Soho, who, as part of his church's response to the pandemic is bringing food and vital resources to the poor in the West End, and is not only providing them with material aid but - crucially - spiritual sustenance too, such as an 'on street' Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Now I'm not saying this to crow at (or 'own' as they say these days) the C of E because, let's be honest, the RC hierarchy in Britain hasn't pulled up too many trees either. But reading about Fr. Sherbrooke's initiative yesterday in The Catholic Herald (it's on the website if you fancy a look) made me feel as heartened as reading the Ahrmanic spew quoted by Bruce above has made me furious and disgusted.

So I'll close this comment with a quote from Fr. S about his own feelings concerning the virus: 'Personally I would say that the reason I haven't caught it - given the reality of the situation here - is that every day I pray that the Precious Blood of Jesus will come into my heart, my veins, my lungs, and protect me from the virus so that I can do this work.'

Christians need more of this attitude - from all denominations. Probably too much to expect from the top brass though. It was ever thus!

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - I don't know of any other organisation that has gone so far down this path of anti-Christian sumbission to Ahriman as the CofE Bishops.

However, we should distinguish the bishops from individual priests and pastors - some of whom are doing as much as they can, but perhaps keeping it quiet.

I would prefer priests to be heroic in bringing the sacrament rather than food - that ought to be the priority.

Fr S has almost certainly been exposed to the birdemic and fought it off without any symptions at all, as do a large majority of people - ranging from about (in examples I have come across) 85% of naval personnel to more than half of elderly sick and demented people in an old people's homes. It does kill, but not significantly more than (e.g.) the flu of 2017-18.

But it is strange to me that more Christian priests and pastors don't recognise that this crisis is being used to try and kill their churches. I predicted that this would happen on day one, and sure enough it did happen. Maybe this can't be stopped (the churches are weak and lack mass support), but at least they ought to understand what the Establishment really think of them.

The major church leaders - esepcially in the CofE *Are* the Establishment - and so function as fifth column subversives, so they already know - but the lower ranks ought to be able to see this, and would see it if they had spiritual discernment.

BTW I don't buy the idea of Bishops approving the home church ideal; since they would then lack jobs and power. Home church is absolutely fine by me, and an excellent thing - for those who want it. But episcopal churches killing themselves - as at present - does not help home churches, since episcopal churches are the best possibility for many Christians here-and-now. We can be sure that Satan is delighted by the decline of the Catholic and Anglican denominations.

Bruce Charlton said...

John "The bureaucratic language this is written in is repulsive and vile"

This is spot and - and actually a sensitive marker for the nature and intent of an organisation. Once the Public Relations and Press Releases of an organisation, and its internal memos (such as this one) have begun to use this kind of language - it is evidence of the general corruption of that organisation. It is a sign that evil is permeating that organisation.

One reason such prose is repulsive and vile is that it is intrinsically dishonest: root and branch.

Stephen Keeble said...

Dishonesty from the Ministry of Truth?

Bruce Charlton said...

@SK - I was a university academic - and in the early years, the massive bureaucratic impositions (i.e. the beginnings of the current, in-place full totalitarian system of hourly-surveillance, recording and micro-control of staff) were merely advisory, 'guidance', voluntary.

Because they were wrong; I did not do them, and continued to work in the system for a further twenty plus years until - eventually, dissent was made a sacking offence. At that point I needed to retire anyway, so I never quite got to the point of being sacked.

"Everybody" else (exceptng a few dissenters) complied with every wave of new imposition - sometimes under the impression tha they were compulsory, sometimes for careerist reasons, sometimes from timidity/ cowardice. There was near zero resistance.

Becvause managers always give dishonest and misleading answers; eventually I worked out that the only way to discover whether something was forbidden or compulsory, was to do the opposite and see how far the magement could or would do in enforcing it.

This is what real Christians among the vicars and rectors of the CofE should have done. They should have done what their Christian conscience suggested (e.g. if they are Catholic in outlok, to continue offering Eucharist in church for all those who want it; if they were more Protestant, to continue home meetings, prayer and Bible study), and then waited to see what happened.

It now seems that nothing would have happened, because these were just guidance that had (deliberately, dishonestly) been presented as mandatory. Yet the priests complied, and have (I would say) irrevocably damaged the church, and their own standing - unless there is a full and publlic acknowledgment and repentance of error.

The point is, those who are on the side of God in this acute spiritual war need (at least!) to make The Enemy use time, energy and resources in enforcing wrong, unjust, anti-Christian rules on us; and ought-to speak out clearly (especially in private - personally, about the spiritual rights and wrongs of the situation) - we should not just follow the dictates of evil totalitarians without generating any friction.

Anonymous said...

In the current 'race to the bottom' between Bishops of the Church of England and Bishops of Ecclesia Anglicana in communion with Pope Francis, I commend to your attention Paul Smeaton's coverage of how the "Catholic bishops prohibited the celebration of public Masses before the lockdown came into force and, according to their own statement, played a crucial role themselves in convincing the government to require that churches be closed altogether", e.g., here:

There does seem to have been a certain degree of priests of both (sometimes with, rather than without, episcopal - 'sufferance'?) having "done what their Christian conscience suggested (e.g. if they are Catholic in outlook, to continue offering Eucharist in church for all those who want it [..])" in various countries, but "especially in private" or something like it, with limited attendance, in a distinctly 'word-of-mouth' 'underground church' sense.

David Llewellyn Dodds