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Monday, 26 November 2012

Tesco – A Greater Institution than the C of E?

The Church of England has been engaged in a frenzy of navel-gazing of late. Week by week attendance shrinks. It doesn't seem to care. Some of those engaged in the women bishops debate are manifestly more concerned with Political Correctness than with Evangelism.

The Church of England is not the only denomination wherein secular ideology holds sway. The United Reform Church might be characterised as the Green Party (or the LibDems) at prayer. The Church of Rome is my refuge, not because it is perfect (no human institution is), but because it has remained more faithful to its Founder than its modernising sisters. More faithful in its Christology and in the centrality of the sacraments.

The Roman Church does not ask what the Culture teaches. Catholics ask what Scripture and the Tradition teach. Some of you will think that this means that Catholics have stopped thinking. Nothing could be less true. I have mentioned Father Robert Barron more than once in these posts. He is brilliant and not alone among Catholic thinkers in applying his intellect to matters of faith and morals.

There are many great Anglicans. C S Lewis, Peter Hitchens, John Lennox and Keith Ward are among them. There are many great Evangelicals. But when it comes to institutional faithfulness, The Church of Rome has proved itself again and again. One test (to me an important one) is to ask which of the traditions is the most demonised by the bien pensant elites. Materialists, Progressives and Socialists hate the Catholic Church more than they hate other “denominations”. Evidence of this is to be seen in the glee with they seek to humiliate the Church by insisting that in matters of conscience Catholics should be dictated to by secular ideology. We have seen this repeatedly when it comes to adoption, contraception and abortion. Devoted and effective foster parents have been told that they do not even have the right to silence in respect of same-sex relationships.

What has Tesco to with this? Not much, to tell the truth.

A new branch opened in Stretford today. The choice and quality are outstanding, the staff are extraordinarily helpful and courteous and prices are reasonable. Why? Because the directors and shareholders of Tesco are faithful to their mission – to make money. And because they understand well that the only way to do so is to serve consumers, their fellow men and women, they expend enormous effort to keep quality high and to keep prices to a minimum. What is more, they serve me well. “Service” is a word with religious connotations. I’d prefer them to provide me with healthcare and my grandchildren with an education than the state-run organisations now entrusted with these services.

A failing supermarket chain goes bankrupt; its assets are acquired by entrepreneurs who can run it better. A state school or hospital is seen to be failing; the state shovels money into it.

Is Tesco “better” than the C of E? Superficially a stupid question. Tesco is successful in fulfilling its mission, the C of E is decreasingly successful in fulfilling its.

As to the question of whether women should be consecrated as bishops, I am not going to intrude into a private grief. I am, after all a refugee from the Church of England. May I observe, however, that the Nicean Creed mentions two humans (apart from Our Lord): Mary and Pontius Pilate. We pray to the triune God and we say the Ave Maria. Female saints figure very largely in Catholic devotions. Is it better to be a bishop or a saint – no brainer!

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