Some readers might welcome a little information about an Anglican suffragan (i.e. assistant) Bishop who has been in the news recently.
Philip North was 'one of us'; and when the C of E resolved to have Women Bishops and Pope Benedict offered us an Ordinariate, we each had to decide whether to accept the offer. It became clear from what he said at public meetings that Fr North was not going to accept; his reason being that he wished to discharge a ministry which stretched out to the whole of society in a way that the non-Established ecclesial bodies, in his view, could not. He was subsequently nominated to the see of Whitby, because the Whitby area contained many of the parishes in the North who would need alternative episcopal oversight. Bigotry, however, raised its ugly head, and Father withdrew. Upon his appointment to Burnley, a novel system was put in place ... allegedly, because the powers that be were anxious to save as many people as possible from the clutches of the Ordinariate. The consecration was not performed by the Primatial Archbishop of York, but by a senior bishop who does not ordain women and two coconsecrators who also do not. Thus those dissenting from the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministies secured a sort of ecclesiola in ecclesia. This stimulated some disquiet, and in one parish the toddlers in the Church Primary School, sweet little ecclesiologists, were helped to write letters of protest.
So I am not surprised that Bishop Philip has written a most thought-provoking article in the Church Times, in which he defends ordinary working class people from the contempt of chattering classes. The context, of course, is the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which is thought by many to have been swung by the votes of xenophobic working class people. Bishop Philip names three matters of affection and/or concern which the working classes have: Family, Nation, Work (it has not been revealed whether he is aware of the rather 'Vichy' nature of this triad!). He thinks they deserve to have their concerns taken more seriously.
Broadly, I am in agreement with him. I would only have some hesitations in the matter of country. In Britain, our armed forces have been disgracefully used in immoral (and unsuccessful) military adventures. From the Gulf Wars onwards. We cheered on the fatuous Arab Spring and bombed Libya into a chaos from which it shows no signs of recovering. We bear the main responsibility for the horrors, for the millions of the killed and wounded and dispossessed, in Iraq and Syria. Affection for ones country and respect for her Armed Forces must not be extended to cover unquestioning acceptance of such government decisions.
Where the bishop is arguably right is in suggesting that there are more important things for Christians to be endlessly concerned with than gender and sexual matters. Everybody claims to agree with this. But, in the C of E, those endlessly demanding 'reforms' phrased the matter thus: "The Church should devote its energies towards the needs of the poor, so immediately give us what we demand with regard to the Ordination of Women and Marriage equality".
Poor dim things, they never spotted that there might be an equally logical alternative second half to that quaint proposition. Or did they?