To start, we have an archbishop who says he was sexually abused when younger. Despite the (alleged but highly plausible) abuse, he kept his faith and remained part of the church. The church repaid that faith by declining to investigate the abuse until pressured. The good archbishop now appears to be placing his faith in the police instead.
JOHN HEPWORTH, TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN COMMUNION: I’m formally requesting the police to examine the matter. It was never my intention to go beyond the processes of the Church. I very much regret that I’m having to do that.
MATTHEW SMITH: He alleges he was sexually abused several decades ago as a young man by three Catholics, two of whom have since died. Nick Xenophon named Monsignor Ian Dempsey as the third accused man in a speech to the Senate, claiming the Church had had four years to investigate Archbishop Hepworth’s claims. The Catholic Church commissioned prominent QC Michael Abbott to investigate the case, and he has cleared Monsignor Dempsey after a three-month process. Archbishop Hepworth had refused to take part, despite repeated attempts by the QC’s solicitors to contact him.
JOHN HEPWORTH: We’ve engaged over the years in a fairly hostile way, and therefore I felt a great difficulty in trusting Mr Abbott with such an intimate thing in my life.
Then we have the Catholic Church fretting over whether to go ahead and ordain a bishop they’ve already approved because the Chinese government may insist on the inclusion of a bishop they don’t approve of.
The ordination of Peter Luo Xuegang as coadjutor bishop of Yibin diocese has the blessing of the Vatican, a recent point of agreement in its decades-long rift with the state-backed church. The source of friction this time is the possible presence of an excommunicated bishop at the ceremony.
AsiaNews, the Vatican-affiliated news agency which closely covers the church in China, reported Friday that Paul Lei Shiyin was almost certain to take part because the government “will want to impress a ‘patriotic’ and ‘independent’ character on the ceremony.”
The affair strikes at the heart of the dispute between the Vatican and the state-backed church since their split a half-century ago: the right to appoint bishops. The prerogative has been a key to the Vatican to ensure control and orthodoxy over far-flung communities of believers for centuries. In the same vein, China’s communist government wants to make sure Catholics remain loyal to Beijing, not a foreign power.
Of course, not ordaining any more bishops to tend your local believers isn’t going to help maintain control either. Good luck sorting that one out.
Finally, we have a curmudgeonly type Anglican priest hauling out two decades worth of grudges over the ordination of female priests on the occasion of the ordination of female bishops.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, appearing before a parliamentary committee of the House of Lords, urges that, once women are consecrated as bishops – he is confident of their acceptance being voted by the General Synod – they should be fast-tracked to membership of the House. So real bishops – I mean male bishops – who have served in the episcopate for years will be sidelined by the incoming women.
Isn’t this what we used to call discrimination?
In 2010 the General Synod confirmed its determination to proceed to the consecration of women bishops. Disconcertingly, the resolution does not include any proposal to provide statutory provision for those who in conscience cannot accept women’s episcopacy.
It is still not too late to hope that this manifest injustice to conscientious dissenters from the consecration of women bishops will so stick in the craw of all but the most hardened feminist apparatchiks in the Synod that they will vote the measure down.
Still and all, isn’t it just such a good thing that religion provides us with some kind of moral authority? Otherwise, we might spend all our time squabbling over what is right and good.