Glasgow and Dublin: twin disasters

First, a police helicopter crashed into a Glasgow pub on Friday, burying a number of people under the rubble and killing eight.

Then, in a parallel catastrophic development, the Church of Ireland consecrated its first woman bishop on Saturday.

While mourning the victims of the Glasgow tragedy, we may still rest assured that this is a one-off incident. To the best of my knowledge, no police helicopter has ever flown into a pub before, and one can confidently predict that this is unlikely to happen again.

Alas, the same can’t be said about the Dublin tragedy. Anglican churches around the world have consecrated 26 other women bishops, or will shortly do so. And what with the High Anglican end of the Synod having removed its objections, the Church of England will soon find itself on the receiving end of the same disaster as well.

Stretching the parallel even further, practically to breaking point, pub crawlers anywhere are unlikely to abandon their chosen pastime, assuming correctly that the odds are in their favour.

Conversely, it’s not immediately obvious how orthodox Christians can in all conscience remain in the Anglican Church. It’s not that they would be leaving the Church – it’s that the Church has left them.

The Church’s back won’t stay in one piece after the thudding, crashing impact of this last straw. If it does, this will only go to show how little the English value Christian doctrine.

As it is, Anglo-Catholics have to travel miles in search of a congregation eschewing crass translations of liturgical texts in favour of the ineffably beautiful and uplifting KJB and the Prayer Book.

As it is, many of the 39 Anglican articles are unacceptable to any orthodox Christian for being downright Calvinist.

As it is, orthodox Anglicans can’t pick up a newspaper without reeling from yet another blow delivered to their sensibilities, be it female vicars blessing same-sex couples, cathedrals kindly offering their premises as sites of raves, prelates mouthing bien pensant PC drivel or other prelates referring to the Incarnation and the Resurrection as figures of speech.

As it is, one finds it hard to see how the Church of England, what with its three different sub-divisions at odds with one another, can legitimately be described as a true Church rather than so many separate congregations with few visible ecclesiastical links among them.

What has happened now is a blatant declaration of contempt for 2,000 years of Christian tradition. And the declarers can’t even claim, as Luther and Calvin did, that they are being guided by the Holy Spirit.

They openly and proudly admit that their sole guide is our soulless, atheist, anomic modernity with its kaleidoscopically changing fads. “The Church has to adapt to the times,” is how they put it. They may be confusing the Church with the retail industry or perhaps high fashion.

If they believe, as one suspects few of them do, that the Church stands for the eternal truth, then it mustn’t by definition adapt itself to secular toing and froing. Quite the opposite, it must repeat ad infinitum that the secular world should adapt itself to the eternal truth, as taught by the Church.

Protectio trahit subjectionem, subjectio projectionem (protection entails allegiance, allegiance entails protection) is an ancient legal principle. One could suggest that it applies not only to states but also to Churches.

By insisting on debauching its theology to comply with secular pressures, the Anglican Church no longer offers protection to its orthodox communicants. It thereby forfeits its claim to their allegiance.

As they leave in droves, many will do so tearfully. The sublime poetry of the Authorised Version will still ring in their minds, the intimate grandeur of Anglican hymns will still sound in their hearts. They won’t be closing the door behind them because they want to. They’ll be doing so because they have to. Or rather because they’ve been shown the door.

Some will flock to Ordinariate churches, the few there are. But even assuming that more will be created to avoid a stampede, this can only be a stopgap measure, lasting one generation at best.

The illusion of becoming Catholic while somehow remaining partly Anglican is comforting, but it’s an illusion nonetheless. Small lexical differences will soon be overridden by the practically identical liturgies of Anglo- and Roman Catholicism, and youngsters will see little point in the Ordinariate as they grow up.

It’s really there to smooth the transition for older people, those who were baptised in the Church of England all those years ago and who have now been discarded by it. But even as they try to cling on to fragments of the Anglican rite, they will no doubt embrace Catholicism unequivocally and unreservedly.

They will be guided by Matthew 10: 14, stubbornly remembered in the lovely King James Version: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”

The victims of the Glasgow disaster, RIP. Anglo-Catholicism, ditto.

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