Saturday, 3 April 2004

Saturday columns

Theo Hobson writes in The Times about the Church of England under the headline Is the Pope a Tory? Some extracts:

Until quite recently the Church of England was sometimes called “the Tory party at prayer”. Today this could hardly be further from the truth: the Church looks more like the Lib Dems at prayer. As for the Tory party, it now chooses to pray elsewhere.
For more than a decade, the most prominent religious voices in the party have been Roman Catholic rather than Anglican.

A generation ago, the Tories’ Roman tendency would have scarcely been credible. Tories were Anglicans, almost to a man: Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Hogg, Powell, Heath. To understand this shift in the Tories’ religious allegiance we must consider the party’s disenchantment with the Church of England as well as its attraction to Rome.
The Tories were the party of the monarchy and the established Church: they sought to protect these institutions from the reforming zeal of the Whigs, to defend the common national faith. This remained the case well into the 20th century - until the 1950s, in fact. Then came the 1960s: dramatic secularisation effectively ended the Church’s traditional role of the nation’s moral guardian. In effect, the Church was semi-disestablished by 1980. As its identity became less national, it became more radical. It moved away from its Tory image, and it often pursued a global agenda (poverty, disarmament), at the expense of what the Right called the national interest.

The Tories’ resentment at liberal Anglicanism is still going strong. There was a good example in The Sunday Telegraph a few months ago: a leading article called Rowan Williams “An Unworthy Archbishop”, for daring to criticise the treatment of suspected terrorists. Tory orthodoxy still entails the claim that the Church of England is a failed guardian of the national soul, which is safer in Tory hands. And, for many Tories, in Roman Catholic hands.
But what about Rome’s old image as essentially unpatriotic? During the second half of the 1990s this evaporated with startling speed. The Queen herself began to demonstrate her openness to the old religion: she attended a service at Westminster Cathedral in 1995, and later invited Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor to officiate at Windsor. It became commonplace for her to treat Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism with equal respect - this was especially evident in her Christmas broadcast of 2000, in which she paid homage to the Pope.

The Credo column is by Maurice Glasman and is Religion without reason results in violence and injustice.

In the Guardian, Rob Marshall writes about The true meaning of Lent.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 April 2004 at 1:32 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion