CofE Trajectory "...will always be shipwrecked on the rocks of secular liberalism and cultural Marxism."
Andrew Burnham (born 19 March 1948) is an English priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Burnham was formerly a bishop of the Church of England and served as the third Bishop of Ebbsfleet (a "flying bishop"), a provincial episcopal visitor in the Province of Canterbury from 2000 to 2010.
He resigned in order to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on 15 January 2011.
Further to the recent decision of Philip North to withdraw his acceptance to be the new Anglican Bishop of Sheffield, Mgr Burnham has written an excellent response to the situation in The Catholic Herald.
The story is that North, 50, who is Bishop of Burnley, is a traditionalist who disagrees with female ordination. North said that the news of his appointment last month had ‘elicited a strong reaction’. A similarly strong reaction greeted his decision on Thursday to withdraw.
After he had informed Downing Street of his decision, he issued a statement in which he said:
“It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many.”However, he criticised his detractors for the “highly individualised nature of the attacks” on him, which he said had been extremely hard to bear. read his full statement here.
This was acknowledged in this beautifully written piece by the woman priest's campaigner Elaine Storkey. In a reflection which has important ramifications for our whole society at the moment I think, she explains:
The appalling hounding, vilification and name-calling meted out to Philip North, a faithful brother in Christ has produced a severe set-back to this vision of the Church. It has manifested the same spirit evident in the worst aspects of our culture today – the power of ignorance and the supremacy of intolerance. We have much work to do to separate ourselves from the post-truth, sloganeering, and media-hype of our age. We are in an era of name-calling, where truth disappears within a hundred offensive epithets. [my emphasis].
"Philip North is not ‘misogynist’ ‘sexist’, or ‘bigoted’ as twitter feed describes him. Nor, as Martin Percy inelegantly suggested, does he represent ‘gender-based sectarianism’ and ‘fogeyish sacralised sexism’. He is a man of conviction and prayer called by God to be a leader in the church. His views on the different callings of women and men are not my views, and I would be happy to continue the debate with him. But that does not, and should not, disqualify him from public respect, or from taking his place alongside other leaders in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in our country today. I am sorry he felt pressured to resign from what could have been a fruitful and forward-looking episcopacy, and regret the emotional and psychological pain he has gone through. But I am even more sorry for the church that is so weakened by failure to keep its word."However, what left me scratching my head about Elaine's assessment was that, although she appears to be admitting defeat with regard to the issue of "Mutual Flourishing", she is convinced that, despite the clear decline and fracture evidenced in the Church of England since it started down the road of female ordinations, (immediately creating a gulf between the Anglican Communion & Rome which could only serve to make any closer relations more difficult) she appears to remain convinced that this is God's will:
We make our decisions in faith, wrestling in praying and hoping that God’s will, not ours, be done. And we live with the full awareness that we might be wrong. This is precisely why we need each other, especially those whose conscience and discipline is greater than our own. As we affirm, with Luther, ‘Here we stand, we can do no other’ we always need to recognize that those who stand somewhere else might well have deep spiritual insights, which we need to learn from.In all honesty, it seems to me that all that has happened is that some people wanted something so badly that they were quite prepared to sacrifice Scripture, Tradition, and even the Anglican Communion itself in order to obtain it.
The question being asked by Anglican clergy I know now seems to be "has this broken the Anglican Communion permanently?" While I have noticed a few (well, one actually) argue that they are happy where they are, this came with a caveat that
"I won't deny that events have left many angry and deeply upset. I am both. But I can't see many, if any, swimming the Tiber over it."Many others seem to recognise that there is no future in the C of E for orthodoxy. One excellent Anglican I know said:
"The CofE settled for less and there is no way back. I for one am also complicit in pretending we can flourish!"To these, Mgr Burnham remarks that although many did come over to full communion with Rome when the Ordinariate was created:
Plenty more stopped behind, hoping for more favourable conditions. It is clear that these can never be available. It is also clear that the task of the Church of England, having made the decision about women’s ministry, is to focus its energy not on making space for minorities to flourish in its structures – that battle is lost – but on working in the vineyard.My own assessment of the current situation is that the clergy and lay who came over in the last wave present a better Christian witness to the Gospel and a more authentic Catholicism than many of us cradle Roman Catholics in England have seen for a long while. From what I have seen & experienced, they know their faith & live it.
The truth is that many of them have been treated shabbily since they came over to us. Their vocal Christian witness has jarred somnolent cradle Catholic congregations unused to hearing the Gospel preached in a culture that tends toward a soporific mediocrity which bends over backwards not to offend. Sleepy Catholic clergy (bishops and priests) feel threatened by Ordinariate clergy who actually believe in what the Church teaches and have become battle-hardened in an environment which has sought to subvert historic, apostolic & biblical values in favour of what Mgr Burnham refers to as secular liberalism and cultural Marxism. It must be acknowledged that there is definitely at an attempt to do this in the Catholic Church as well, but we have, so far been able to resist the movement.
If the Catholic Church is to survive the flood of relativism that we currently face in the west, we desperately need to be preaching the Gospel in an effective way. My experience of the Ordinariate is that they do this, bravely, eruditely and within the context of beautiful, moving liturgy. We could really use the help of those remaining orthodox catholics in the Anglican communion to continue the work of evangelisation that needs to take place in our country.
My prayer is that Philip North et al will join with us soon so that his energy & sincere faith can work to its' full potential to energise and evangelise England.
Jules: How should ordinary Christians who seek to be faithful to the gospel of Christ respond to liberal clergy who preach and practice heresy?
Gavin: Leave their Church and look for one that has kept as much of the historic, apostolic and biblical values as possible.
Jules: Have you had any support from bishops in the Church of England following your resignation as Queen’s Chaplain?
Gavin: I have had hundreds, perhaps thousands of emails in the last week from Christians across the world pledging their support and their prayers. But not a single one from a serving C of E bishop!
Jules: How do you see your future in the Church of England and the future of the Church of England?
Gavin: It isn’t a matter of how I see it. Demographically and financially it is dying. Spiritually it appears to be on its last legs too. I’m not sure I see much point in a church that just wants to be accepted as a sort of not too irritating chaplain to a secular and hedonistic culture, which is what it seems to be becoming. I want to remain a faithful Anglican, but increasingly it looks like that is only possible outside the C of E. It has opted for a kind of spiritualised socialism and feminism in opposition to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You get new life when you repent. But there is no sign that it is ready to take that path.
This is not just the C of E. Any Christian Church which undermines it's own truth & function is doomed to fail. What we can learn from the Anglicans is that compromise can only lead to a dictatorship of relativism.