Church of england

Letters: The contentious issues of religious conversion

Hard to reconcile Sir: Although not an Anglican, I appreciate Michael Nazir-Ali’s dilemma (‘A change of mind and heart’, 23 October) and know many Anglicans whose loyalty to the C of E is being severely tested. But insofar as his theology is classically Protestant and evangelical, it is difficult to see how the former bishop can reconcile it with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on the sacraments, the office of the Pope, the role of Mary, purgatory and justification, to name but a few contentious issues. He speaks of how ‘what Anglicanism in its classical form has held most dear is being fulfilled in the progression of the

The curious case of Boris and the bishops

Back in July the wedding of Boris and Carrie at Westminster Cathedral prompted Steerpike’s diligent colleague Robert Peston to ask a personal – but constitutionally important – question: is the PM a Catholic? As the head of government in a country with an established church, the Prime Minister and his office are intimately involved in deciding who runs the Church of England via his role in the appointment of bishops. Some premiers of course have relished their role in the ecclesiastical process. When appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1961, Harold Macmillan was said to have been urged by the incumbent Geoffrey Fisher not to appoint Michael Ramsay as his successor on

Why I left the Church of England: an interview with Michael Nazir-Ali

By now, almost everyone who’s remotely interested will know that Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, a man once tipped to become Archbishop of Canterbury, has converted to Catholicism. Dr Nazir-Ali is the second senior Anglican cleric to jump ship this year, which makes church gossip sound pleasingly Shakespearean: ‘Ebbsfleet has fallen… what and Rochester too?’ But it’s also sad. It’s as if the Church of England is exploding in slow motion, all its constituent pieces — bishops, buildings, parishioners — drifting off for want of a centre to hold them. When I went to meet Dr Nazir-Ali this week, I expected to find him full of vim. As Bishop

Letters: Don’t let the parish perish

Parish problems Sir: Emma Thompson draws attention to a serious problem in the Church of England (‘Power to the parish’, 25 September). Why are they trying to make it easier to close down parishes when the parish is where the people are to whom the church must minister? The parish is also the major funder of the C of E through the generosity of its many local donors. If you take away the incumbent, you take away a major portion of the income for both parish and diocese. One reason many parishes struggle to pay their parish share is because it has been swelled by the diocese to pay for the ever-growing

The Church Closers’ Charter must be torn up

Over the past few months, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury have repeatedly assured us that they love parishes and parish churches. ‘I am passionate that the parish is essential,’ the Archbishop of Canterbury told the Church Times recently. The Archbishop of York went so far as to describe the parish as ‘the beating heart of community life in England’. So why are they supporting a change to church law to make it easier to close parish churches? The paper which proposes the change is at stage one of a three-stage approval process. It has the unsexy name GS 2222, so I call it the ‘Church Closers’ Charter’. Its introduction

Letters: In defence of GPs

Out of practice Sir: GPs are not ‘hiding behind their telephones’ (Leading article, 4 September). In-person appointments are the core of general practice, and practices have been delivering millions of them throughout the pandemic. GPs share patients’ frustrations with the limitations of telephone consulting, which can often take longer than a face-to-face appointment, and with longer waits to be seen. However, as with other areas of the NHS, practices continue to follow national infection control guidance to keep patients and staff safe. You talk of pubs and nightclubs reopening — but how many nightclubs force very sick people, many of them elderly and living with a number of long-term illnesses,

The fight for the future of the Church of England

When the Church of England talks of trying new things, I prick up my ears. Back in 2004 it announced the need for ‘fresh expressions’ — new ventures alongside the normal parish system. Maybe some vibrant arty experimentation would ensue, I felt. But the main result was lots of nimble little evangelical pop-up churches, mostly lay-led. The idea of innovation seems to energise the evangelicals, although their version of innovation doesn’t always energise me. On Easter Day this year I dragged my kids to church, but there was no room at the socially distanced inn. The evangelicals round the corner let us in, so I had a glimpse of a

Letters: How to save Cambridge’s reputation

Save the parish Sir: The Revd Marcus Walker eloquently describes the crisis that has taken hold in the Church of England (‘Breaking faith’, 10 July). He correctly states that the church belongs to the people of England and not to the archbishops, bishops or clergy. As he wrote, the costs of parish clergy are not a ‘key limiting factor’. They should be the church’s first priority in terms of costs. Stipendiary parish clergy play a vital role in bringing the Christian gospel and pastoral care to their communities. Without properly trained and ordained clergy, there would be no holy communion, no absolution and remission of our sins and no church

Is this the last chance to save the Church of England?

I am a key limiting factor. That’s a new one for a clergyman of the Church of England. We’ve traded under parson, cleric, priest, minister, padre and even pie-and-liquor, but never before have I heard us described as ‘key limiting factors’. That this phrase was used during the announcement of a new C of E-endorsed scheme — to create 10,000 new lay-led churches in the next ten years — adds future injury to present insult. ‘Lay-led churches release the Church from key limiting factors,’ said Canon John McGinley introducing the initiative. ‘When you don’t need a building and a stipend and long, costly college-based training for every leader of church… then actually

Letters: China has peaked

China has peaked Sir: Niall Ferguson makes some good points about the nature of Xi Jinping’s imperial aspirations but misses two important parts of the picture (‘The China model’, 8 May). First, the Chinese Academy of Science predicts that China’s population will peak at 1.4 billion in 2029, drop to 1.36 billion by 2050, and shrink to as few as 1.17 billion people by 2065. They even forecast that China’s population might be reduced by about 50 per cent by the turn of the next century. And second, China’s economic rise is stalling. Rather than being on track to displace the United States as the next economic superpower, China now

Charles Moore

Should monuments to past Archbishops of Canterbury come down?

This week, the Church of England issued its document ‘Contested Heritage in Cathedrals and Churches’. It is guidance for what those locally running more than 12,000 churches should do about their monuments ‘to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation’ and address ‘the Church’s own complicity in structural sin’ and ‘oppression or marginalisation of people on the basis of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation’. In church monuments, this usually boils down to whether the person commemorated had links with slavery. Seen from a parish level (where the poor churchwardens, such as my dear wife, will have to do the

The C of E’s misguided obsession with statues

The Church of England has once again misunderstood the mood of the nation. Guidance published this week urges the country’s 12,500 parishes and 42 cathedrals to address, search out, assess and remove offensive artefacts of ‘contested heritage’. The framework follows the call by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, for a review of church statues. Of course racism must be taken seriously, but I doubt I was the only cleric who, upon hearing this development, let out a loud groan. The edict is both a concession to advocates of divisive identity politics and a distraction from the more pressing issues on which the church should be focused. Covid unleashed untold misery

Letters: The C of E’s obsession with critical race theory

Christian approach Sir: Dr Michael Nazir-Ali’s criticism of our report ‘From Lament to Action’ (‘Bad faith’, 1 May) was wide of the mark in its suggestion that Marxist-inspired critical race theory was the ‘intellectual underpinning’ of our approach. Far from it. The source material for our report was three decades of reports on the issue of racial justice from the General Synod of the Church of England. Doubtless there are valid criticisms which can be made of Synod; however, being a hotbed of radical Marxism is not one of them. Our report explicitly rejects any idea that our work should be viewed as a battle in a culture war. Rather

The C of E has fallen for anti-Christian theories of race

In its new report, From Lament to Action, the Church of England has decided to focus on race. Now, there is no question that racism exists within all cultures, but the Judaeo-Christian tradition has always been opposed to it. Christianity emphasises the common origin of all humans, made in God’s image, and contemporary science corroborates this moral and spiritual insight. The Church is right to set its face against racism. Predictably, however, the C of E report urges an audit of monuments and an examination of the Church’s complicity in the slave trade. Why doesn’t it celebrate the long tradition of those Christians who devoted their lives to abolition? The Englishwoman St

The Church of England’s new religion

This article first appeared in the 20 March edition of The Spectator.The Church of England report that was leaked to Douglas Murray has now been published. You can read the full report here. With a heavy heart I must return once more to the subject of the Church of England. I recognise that is not a subject for everybody, and occasionally someone implies that it should not be a subject for me. But I am concerned about the fate of the national church because as the new religion heaves ever clearer into view, I realise that I prefer the old religion to the new one. I would rather attempts to influence

Letters: There’s nothing libertarian about vaccine passports

Taking liberties Sir: I feel that Matthew Parris is absolutely wrong about liberty (‘The libertarian case for vaccine passports’, 10 April). True liberty is that each individual has the possibility to live their life how they desire (within the law), taking full responsibility for any and all the risks they incur. I am not responsible for anyone else’s health. To say that we have to stay indoors, wear masks, observe social distancing or have vaccinations because we would be killing others if we did not is blackmail. If you use the logic that the individual is responsible for the health of all other people then everyone who owns a car

Letters: The inconsistencies of Mormonism

A leap of faith Sir: I live not far from the ‘London Temple’ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most summers, the local streets are trodden by American Mormon missionaries, polite teenagers who occasionally approach to ask if we know Jesus Christ. Some years ago, I read the book on which the new Netflix series Murder Among the Mormons (‘Latter-day sinners’, 3 April) appears to be based. So when I was accosted by a couple of missionaries, I was able to ask them why the practice of polygamy, so avidly promulgated by the founder of their church, Joseph Smith, had been abandoned. My interviewee explained that Smith

The CofE’s Seder masochism

Christians are celebrating their second locked down Easter this weekend. If Mr S wasn’t a model of Christian charity, he’d quite like to remind certain people of this fact, especially those irritating folk who last year insisted that locking down just before the Muslim festival of Eid was somehow an attack British Islam. Perhaps not everything is motivated by conflict between different identity groups? Oh wait, yes it is. With parishioners cooped up at home, someone in the Church of England thought it might be nice to encourage a bit of domestic ritual (yes, that antiquated idea of physical, structured worship). Church House officials launched an online campaign encouraging Christians to celebrate Maundy

Letters: Britain should hang on to its vaccines

Ticket to freedom Sir: While I sympathise immensely with the spirit of last week’s lead article (‘Friends in need’, 27 March), we cannot justify asking Britons to wait any longer than necessary while their ticket out of lockdown is exported to the EU bloc, whose level of freedom is on average significantly higher than the UK’s. How can we justify exporting vaccines to Finland and Sweden, for example, where there has always been the freedom to meet family and friends in groups, while we are still enforcing draconian measures here? Clarke O’GaraSalford The best of the church Sir: I was disappointed that Douglas Murray should base his view of the

The new religion of the Church of England

With a heavy heart I must return once more to the subject of the Church of England. I recognise that is not a subject for everybody, and occasionally someone implies that it should not be a subject for me. But I am concerned about the fate of the national church because as the new religion heaves ever clearer into view, I realise that I prefer the old religion to the new one. I would rather attempts to influence the country’s morals were preached from a pulpit than through group stampede on Twitter. And though we haven’t heard much from actual pulpits for more than a year, the church hierarchy has