Monday, April 22, 2024
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Yes, Archbishop, you have to acknowledge where things have gone wrong


THE Archbishop of Nothingness has spoken. Justin Portal Welby is ‘disappointed’ to hear the allegation that there were parties in 10 Downing Street during the lockdown last Christmas.Well, I am more than disappointed with the government which pretends to be a Tory government while it perpetrates socialist policies, reneges on all its promises and is generally beneath contempt.

Contempt is a word inadequate to describe Justin Portal Welby. Pointing his finger at Boris Johnson and his colleagues, he told the BBC, ‘You have to acknowledge where things have gone wrong.’ That’s marvellous coming from the man who presides over a church in calamitous decline. Congregations are relentlessly dwindling. We have three times as many bishops as there were in 1911 when five times as many layfolk attended church regularly. The historic parochial structure which has sustained the people for centuries with a church in every community is being broken up. There is a shortage of priests. Churches are being closed down and, according to the Anglican authorities’ own assessment, perhaps as many as 300 more will face the same fate over the next few years.

Yes, Justin Portal Welby, you are right: you have to acknowledge where things have gone wrong. In the matter of stewardship, pastoral and theological responsibility, Your Grace has left undone the things you ought to have done and you have done the things you ought not to have done. And there is no health in you.

For a start, you should not have closed down the parish churches when the pandemic began. In the days of persecution under the Caesars, bishops and priests, unafraid and undeterred, waxed vigorous in their proclamation of the faith and indomitable in their solidarity with the holy common folk of God. In plague, pestilence and famine, the bishops and priests did not fail their congregations. During the Black Death – a plague to make Covid look like a touch of the sniffles – the churches never closed. In the 18th and 19th centuries the clergy went into the disease-ridden slums and administered the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and the poor.

But you, Justin Portal, closed all the churches, even to the priests, thus ensuring that the people were denied the Sacrament and the strength and comfort of communal prayer and worship.

Yes, you have to acknowledge where things have gone wrong.

Where did this clowning cleric, this whining caricature of an Archbishop, receive his religious formation? To the twang of the liturgical guitar, he worshipped – though that is not the word I would choose to describe the goings-on – at Holy Trinity Brompton, aka St Knees-up and All Cheesy Smiles. Therefore, he has an Alpha Course where his theological brain ought to be.

Justin Portal Welby claims to ‘pray in tongues every day’. Which tongues are these then? Certainly, English is not conspicuously one of them.

Tell you what, Archbishop, instead of closing the churches, call up those BBC cameras of which you are so fond. Get them pointing at you in the middle of the chancel in Canterbury cathedral and, not in your simpering, etiolated tone, but in a commanding voice, pray thus:

‘O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in the time of king David, didst slay with the plague of Pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembering thy mercy didst save the rest; Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sickness and mortality; that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angel to cease from punishing, so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

But he won’t. And do you know why he won’t?

Because, as I said, the English of the Book of Common Prayer is not one of the tongues he speaks.

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Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen is a Church of England clergyman, writer and broadcaster

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