On 11 November 1841, the still-Anglican S John Henry Newman wrote:
" ... the dioceses in England are connected together by so close an intercommunion that what is done by authority in one, immediately affects the rest ..."
A similar consideration, surely, applies to the Catholic Church in England. Accordingly, I can see no impropriety in offering comments about events in the Diocese of Clifton.
In particular, events at the Church of S Nicolas of Tolentino (video link provided at Lifesite). And events, it is claimed, guaranteed "by the express wish of" the diocesan Bishop.
In a liturgy streamed on the Internet, a novel form of Creed was used (after the homily). Creeds are such significant things that not even the authority of the Diocesan Bishop has normally been considered adequate for the introduction of new versions. Indeed, some Christians have doubted whether the Successor of S Peter himself had adequate authority to allow a Filioque. But let's lean over backwards ...
The Clifton Creed affirms that "everything ... created is very good". In itself, I regard this as commendable. It draws out implications latent in the 'Nicene' statement that God is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible.
Why is the Clifton affirmation especially commendable?
(1) because it condemns the old, Dualist, Gnostic, Marcionite errors whereby there is an Evil Creator who is responsible for the evil material world. It is always good to condemn heresies, new and old! And
(2) because it combats a particular error which has become widespread since the Epidemic.
I have repeatedly read and heard Covid referred to as "this evil virus". As part of God's creation, it cannot be evil; it can only be, as Clifton so rightly affirms, "very good". Politicians talk of 'defeating the virus'; but, surely, it is odd to wish to eradicate things that are "very good." Since the Anglicans still maintain a quaint old claim to be "the Church of England", you might have thought Mr Welby would have gone public with explanations about why Covid is, for all Christians, so "very good". Or Cardinal Vin, who has such a velvety manner with journalists. I would not like to suggest that Bishop Declan should assume this additional burden. Obviously, the pp Fr Thingummy is the man, articulate and thoughtful, to spearhead the CBCEW/Churches Together "Three Cheers for Coronavirus" campaign. Perhaps we could pencil all this in for the year after next?
The Clifton Creed also sees God as affirming that " ... everyone, ... and everyone created is very good". (an oddish dittography here??) And "God has created each one of us without exception, in the Divine Image and likeness."
This also is very, very, very, very true. Hitler was created in the Divine Image and likeness. And the Moors Murderers. and every murderer, rapist, and paedophile. And you and I. And torturers and burglars and embezzlers "without exception", and warmongers and ...
But we also need to remember Sin, both Original and Actual. A human created in the Divine image may be flawed. Many people might, if pressed hard enough, eventually concede that Hitler was flawed. And some might go so far as to suspect that, in people with a pathological need to torture children to death, something has got in there and marred the Divine image. While maintaining the existence of the Divine image in everyone "without exception", surely we need to remember the obligation upon each of us without exception to seek out, repent for, and attempt (with the help of Divine Grace) to root out the corruptions within us, without exception.
But if "without exception" were to mean that God has by universal Immaculate Conception made each human in such an unfallen perfection that everyone without exception is to be affirmed as they are, or as they say they are, we would have a rather dangerous error here. When (sic Clifton) "We rejoice with gratitude in ... the diverse identities of all human persons", we surely cannot bring all human sexual orientations and activities without exception under the innocent-sounding umbrella of all diverse human identities. Or not, anyway, as we read the IICSA reports on Abuse within the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Or, if we do want to emphasise the Divine Image and likeness in all paedophiles without exception, perhaps it would be tactful to wait a few months until IICSA is forgotten, before we do so.
As an unrepentant Traddy, I would assert that recidivist paedophiles are 'objectively disordered'. But, nevertheless, they are, indeed, without exception, created by God, and in His Divine Image and likeness, which remains for ever however overladen by Sin. And such a person is called to Christ and welcomed to His Church, and is summoned to repentance, and is offered grace, and promised mercy no matter how many times she lapses, and promised eternal glory if she dies repentant.
But if talk about "diverse identities of all human persons without exception" is really a neat, cheerful, if rather sly way of slipping into the discussion, unobserved, particular currently fashionable prescriptions or assumptions about sexual acts arising from 'same-sex orientations', then the Devil is at work here.
Even in the Diocese of Clifton!