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|This page last updated 15 April 2007|
Excerpt of an article in the Church
(Reprinted with permission)
The bishop [the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harries] then stopped
talking about the subject and everyone else started. First was Andrew Wilson in the Daily Mail with a piece of uncharacteristically slapdash
invective: "hardly a day goes by without another Randy Rev being reported in the newspapers. The truth is that today's C of E is hopelessly
divided on just about everything. One half of the Anglican clergy (the evangelicals) refuse to accept the authority of the bishops because they
approve of homosexuals. The other half (the homosexual Anglo-Catholics) refuse to accept the authority of bishops who ordain women."
This was wrong in quite an interesting way, for the other development of the week was the discovery that the homosexual Anglo-Catholic clergy have been completely marginalised by their opposition to women, and the leadership of Forward in Faith is determined to keep them like that. The first indication of this came in Friday's Daily Telegraph, when Victoria Combe reported William Oddie's book on the Roman Option. Dr Oddie has been out of the news for some time (except when the Catholic Herald printed his photograph on its front page and captioned it "Cristina Odone", which was not kind to either of them). But he is uniquely placed to write a book about why the Catholic bishops did not want the Anglo-Catholics on their own terms for two reasons: he knew as much as almost anyone about what was going on; and he epitomises the rancorous factionalism which most Catholic bishops were determined to keep out of their church.
The whole difficulty for Forward in Faith is that no one wants them as an organisation. From the point of view of the Catholic bishops, the offer by several hundred parishes to stop defying the authority of the Church of England and to start ignoring theirs instead is something less than the conversion of England for which so many have prayed. Hence FiF's need for a church of their own, and plans to break theirs out of the one which currently shelters it, which Christopher Morgan parlayed into a front page story in the Sunday Times. The chief obstacle to this plan is money; and that in turn brings us back to the poor old gays. Any really large scale distribution of the Church of England's assets to Forward in Faith or its successors will require at least the assent of Parliament and the public. This will not be forthcoming to an organisation dedicated to keeping women away from the altar, so Forward in Faith's only chance is to position itself as "traditionalists" instead. If "traditionalist" means "beastly to gays", then a large section of Daily Mail led opinion will readily understand it as true Christianity and support it when the showdown comes. There need be nothing insincere in this strategy; some of the heterosexual leaders of Forward in Faith really do hate their gay brethren.
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