THAT the placiag of the Ri Revd Robert Runcie in the erroneously called Chair of St Augustine should ever have clashed with Budget Day is decidedly odd, Its like racing at Ascot on the sitme day as the Royal Garden Party — I) nly yvorse.
of the House announced the date for the Budget s March 25. The Chancellor of the Exchey tier said the date irtually ehose its& because it had to be the beginning of the liaanciat year and it had to be 111101 iI he relevant information ki as in, and it could not he iiny later because Parliament then v...ent into recess. And presumably. some immutable tradition hail a that it had to he on a -Fuesdity. I find this C xplanation unconvineing and was considerably relieved when these plans were scotched.
01 course it could have lieen Mr St John Stevas being pre-Vatican II about the Lstahlished Church and pulling off a much more successful piece of sabotage than poor Guy Fawkes. But no. I am sure he would have liked to have been at Canterbury carrying one of his several ministerial hats in the procession.
It could have represented the first delicate step towards Diseatablishmene The State had turned its back on its own Church?
It could have represented .the final triumph of greed. materialism, and mammon and the rejection of that principle of indefinable sit/Reny that the Editor in Chief of The Observer and the editor or The Times have both been writing about as the essential element in the State and society.
Personally I think that someone did not v. rite Dr Runcie's day down in his desk diary and we all know what that sort of thing can lead to — usually to the most elaborate and highly wrought fibs.
Pity, really. because the choice of Dr Runcie could not have been bettered. 1 lis war time haekground k Npecial and liccording to an interview he 4laVe. lie appears to have killed a couple of the enemy while in the Scots Guards. A normal act or a witr-time soldier.
Ile has been negotiator with the various Orthodox churches and he would he the last to claim that anything much has been achieved by this. Ile w eIL w jib Dr Coegan to Moscow and he found the Patriarch there piqued at the suggestion made within the A nglivan Church that women he ordained priests. They reacted rather as did Mr Khruschev when he brought down im American high speed "spy 'plane" But much more politely.
So one can expect a group of those depressed — and they have U great deal to be depressed about — and rather dour figures in his procession through Canterbury Cathedral up to that lofty altar.
Dr Coggan himself was enthroned with a Papal splendour. There was the Prince of Wales, every sort of clergyman, politicians, The Lord Chancellor told the Speaker of the House of Commons both in silk britches and stockings and buckled shoes and a froth of lace looking as if they had come straight out ail-Gilbert and Sullivan and were about to break into a witty song and dance about the Nobility or something. And there were three Cardinals whose scarlet killed ahrost every other colour in that marvellous church and tyho settled down in a practiced manner into their cathedral stalls as if they belonged there.
have only two pieces of advice. For Dr Cuggan they had haat a special platform for the press in the transeept called the Martyrdom. It gave U stilled) view irid it cost 00 a head to use it. They did the same in the Abbey for the wedding of Princess. Anne. -1-his pays for the labour.
But this one %Vas high. flimsy and approached by a wooden ladder great length that bent like a how. It was a fearful
thing to mount this scaffold and one lady reporter refused even to attempt it. We were all locked in by an IRA conscious police — an inspector was sent or to search me — and she saw nothing.
The other thing is vestments. Anglican bishops look superb in their scarlet gowns and ■■ ide, pulled linen sleeves. Very reVr of them seem to have quite got the hang of how to wear mitre and cope. The copes slip to One side and the mitres are worn like crash helmets or tea cosies, low down over the eyes. This is a subject on which they could seek a little ecumenical advice. learn from Cardinal Hume how to flick a Mitre ii11.0 place, watch the Pope in a high wind or kneeling in a cope the size of a hell tent in front or St Peter's I ugh Altar.
At least we will now know what Mrs Thatcher chooses to wear. And she does not take such a decision lightly, And the press will not be there in such droves because the ceremony is a gift to the cameraman and the wise ones will now he able to watch it all on TV.
CHRISTIAN Unity week hardly exploded over England this week. No blinding light was shed and. I suspect, precious few hearts uplifted. It has become a Christian duty and it is perlOrmed only by the conscientious.
It made little impression upon our small town. We had a serviee every day at mid-day and on one day it consisted of three ladies and the Rector.
True, there was an early Sunday Evensong, so held. I suppose. to allow the Catholic priest and the Catholics who prefer the matine Mass to get to their church. It was well but not tumultuously attended and it lasted an hour and ten minutes — which is a mite long for Catholics who expect,
as a group. a certain dazzlemein of ritual if they are to be kept more than 45 minutes. Anglicans and Methodists are made of sterner stuff. In every way.
People have a tendency to forget the good already achieved. people who dismiss it are new horn when it comes to history zinc] therelOre rather dangerous. We remember that little children were once sent up chimneys to loosen the soot. We forget that it was once against Canon Law for Catholics to say the Lord's Prayer in public with "heretics". We forget that during the coronation of George VI, the Papal repreacmatives sat it all out in the porch of Westminster Abbey because he could not attend the seRice which is a part of the crowning business.
And then with a rush, it all began to change. Crowded Vespers. with Benedictines in Westminster Abbey, a dangerouslycrowded Cathedral in Winchester for a Mintilical Mass, Viciirs lending their enurehes with the approval of their church parish councils, Cardinals. Archbishops, Chief Rabbis and Metropolitans of the Orthodox Church all photographed in various combinations, usually in attitudes of hysterical gaiety. There has arrived tolerance. mutual help, comaraderis. the dropping or hurtful phrases and words of sacred abuse and a general attitude of tolerance.
It would seem that we have broken tiotl rl all the barriers within arms reach. but that next we will have to move our reel. We are on the edge of the great divide and no one has an acceptable design for a bridge.
The theologians have done a great deal to reeonvile ideas that Keern fiercely contradictory' to laymen. But we are not led by theologians and we increasingly disobey canon lawyers. The theologians seem stuck and the canon lawyers still V. restle with a new and more relevant code of Church Law.
But what of Catholic opinion? le en in an t tliversal
!kon cannot generalise. What may he sweet in Poland may be sour it; France. Even between the Church in England and Ireland there are laaeinating differences.
I suspect that the laity has lost its enthusiasm, even its interest in ecumenism. Bev are heginning to count the social and cultural and peHonal costs or CetiMenkin. IL is not a matter that concerns theoloa.ians. It is al host political and economic question.
There could he two Confessions, side by side, both in Communion with Rome. one with all the medieval glories and physical treasures. the other with its cherished memories of pover1y. and deprivation. One 111 the Big House, the other in the Lodge (late cottage.
So tar the impression is that it is the Catholics who have done the giving. The others still retain the Thirty Nine Articles which arc far more oneusixe dem Leo XI ITs condemnation of Anglican orders.
Complete re u inroni %amid cause a great deal of personal grief. Mixed marriages. interteommarnon, even a diminution of the practical authority of Rome. all these 'night well prove acceptable to the laity. But thelinal denial of all our incidental traditions, that is going to hurt so sorely that it will tract tire our Chereh. I think that this particular train is going to he stuck in this V. ayside halt for quite a long time. There is nothing new about that in England.
IF YOU live in Dulwich, may I recommend the parish history of St Thomas Mures church there? It's by Michael Smith who is a y•oung historian, The parish did not start until 1879. It was begun by Franciscans handed over In) the Downside monks and then given to the seculars.
A great deal is about money for the poor and money for a church. Three boys need hoots. girls need l'irst Communion dresses. In 1893 the school inspeelor records "creditable progress". But in 1901 he writes. "excepting a tendency ot mutual t.00peration in the first stmlnidmLrd (cilsaess)itileted:s.ehool is cn well tiipii It lNaS not a rich parish, or the Catholics in it were not. The future Cardinal Gasquet was a curate there. The Catholics appear, while struggling to survive. to have had a mass of societies: or eS ample. the (Zhildren of Mary. the Altar Society • the Guild of the Blessed Sacrament. the Society or St Vincent de Paul, the Apostleship of Pray cr. the Catholic Needlework Guild, the Catholic Boes Brivade. a cricket club, a tennis club, a lending lihrir and an amateur dramatic groap. [he account is both Witty and sad and ought on every account, to make you grateful For the tittle you have got. They had less.
that the church of St Mary Magdalen at Mortlake is keeping a eenteratry of the sort of nem we take for granted. A memorial to him, runs: The Rev tither Augustus lienry Law SJ: Received when an officer in the Royal Navy into the one fold of Christ -by Dr Grant. Bishop of Southwark in this church on Mav 16th 1457a
Died of a lever a missionary priest on the Zambezi mission at Llmeila's Kraal South Africa in the 48th ear or his age on November i5th 1880,
e worked in former British Guiana and eventually went to Africa where he was joined by live priests and live lay brothers. They started in IVO and the last survivor left in 1882, Although quinine was known as "Jesuits' Haile' and worked against malaria in South America, the Jesuits did not seen) to rise it in Africa. the\ v.ent expecting death. I Ile) are ss orth recalling for in Lather Latk's district. which was vast, there are now hall' a lilihtiUll (_ iitholics, lour hundred priests and African bishops. It is Prot a tragic story.