Page 4, 18th December 1970

18th December 1970
Page 4
Page 4, 18th December 1970 — CHURCH AND STATE
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CHURCH AND STATE

'THE Chadwick Report proposes two main

-Ipossibilities : that the Church of England should be more or less disestablished, and that membership of Lords and Commons should be open to all clergy, higher or lower as the case may be, of all denominations.

Critics of disestablishment assert that the Church of England remains the Church of the English people because even nominal Anglicans and outright humanists adhere to a way of life characterised by Anglican values. Thus Parliament and Church are interwoven.

However authentic "implicit" 'Christianity may be from the viewpoint of a believer, many agnostics and humanists resent the label; they have quite deliberately chosen non-Christian standards for themselves, and for them it is irrelevant that Christian and secular values frequently overlap. How, then, can Parliament claim to speak for them when arranging the Church's affairs? And who, in any event, can pretend that Parliament tackles those affairs with anything like real interest?

All of us owe much to the quality which Anglicanism has contributed to the national life. Its honesty, for instance, can act as a standing rebuke to certain forms of Catholic casuistry. But the individual witness of Anglicans is weakened by their Church's involvement in what young people spurn as the Establishment.

It is crucial for us all that the Church of England should stand out as a sign of contradiction in the life of the State, and to do this it must have its independence.

On the other hand, there is no reason why individual priests and clergymen should not be politically active on their personal merits and without committing the institutional Church. It is farcical to urge that any Christian, charged to preach the gospel, should have no voice in the place where it can be most effective for change.

It should certainly be simple enough for a Catholic bishop to sit in the Lords—again on his merits, not because of his mitre—because that is a House where individuals, as distinct from parties, come into their own.

To be a member of the Commons today a priest would have to join a party, as Fr. Drinan has done to get into the U.S. Congress. But why not? The lay Christian M.P. also has a duty to put his Christianity first. There is no special problem for priests.

Mourning Cannon

PrHE death of Les Cannon is a grievous loss

for the British trade union movement, not only because of his personal courage and high integrity, but because he was a man of ideas who had transformed the E.T.U. and pointed the way to a radical change in labour relations.

For all its positive elements, Mr. Carr's Bill fails to go to the heart of the matter. He says he wants to restore the unions' power. Les Cannon, like Danny McGarvey of the Boilermakers, has shown us how to do it.

It is not enough to penalise unofficial strikes. The cause of those strikes is the frustration workers feel while their overworked and illequipped officials try to grapple with the problems of a dozen industries at once through procedures established in the Dark Ages.

To become relevant to the shop floor again, unions need new structures, new bargaining and dispute procedures, and above all a new professionalism. To marry this to the best trade union traditions is not easy. Les Cannon proved it could be done.




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