ON THE PRESENT SPIRITUAL CRISIS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE 'CHURCH OF ENGLAND'
Stumbling through the social revolution and 'troubles' in Northern Ireland in the 1960's, economic decline and entry into the Common Market in the 1970's, the 'everyone for himself' and 'society does not exist' mentality in the 1980's and the disagreements and errings in the 1990's, the United Kingdom entered the Third Millennium weakened and purposeless, facing division on almost all issues. A country so divided and so undermined spiritually and morally, let alone economically and politically, seems to be facing a bleak future. A turning-point in our history is before us.
At the present time, the importance of the apolitical symbol of national unity and tradition, the Monarchy, seems to have been effaced and for many has been discredited. Indeed, the increasingly Presidential and Republican Blair regime seems to be attempting to take over the power and prestige of the Monarchy. The present government that was voted in by a mere 28% of the electorate has an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. As a result it seems able to pass almost any law, however unpopular. Thus it took part in the bombing and genocide in Serbia without UN-backing and, having realized that it could get away with this, is now occupying part of Iraq together with the oil-thirsty Bush regime in the USA. All this without the support of the United Nations.
In its arrogance and failure to listen to popular common sense, it all makes it resemble the minority Thatcher government of the late 1980's. That government too played with words in order to mask shameful realities, it too was 'economical with the truth', or as they say now, makes 'honourable deceptions'. The present government's weakening of the Upper House, its changes to the Constitution and meddling with the independent judiciary, including the abolition of the 1,400 year old post of Lord Chancellor, disturb many. Its changes to the Scottish and Welsh Offices and its centrally-imposed devolution in Scotland and Wales worry others. Its centralized implementation of EU regionalization and possible future destruction of England as an entity also concern many.
Its refusal to hold a democratic referendum on the new EU Constitution (which it knows it would lose), which will inevitably lead to a United States of Europe, reminds us of the decadence of the minority Major government of ten years ago. That regime also refused to listen to the voice of the people and prove itself democratic. At this moment the authorities in Salonika in Greece are preparing for the violent rioting of 100,000 EU citizens at the EU summit there. They have installed anti-aircraft batteries and are organizing their riot police and troops. Such is the love of EU citizens for their unelected and vastly corrupt authorities. Pagan Rome has returned, because Christian Rome let the barbarians in through the gates.
Yet another example of this contemporary triumph of European paganism is the present controversy in the 'Church of England'. Its appointment of a homosexual as Bishop of Reading seems at last to be leading many to wonder if it can survive at all.
Many have defended the decision to appoint this homosexual on the grounds that he had been a homosexual priest for many years. If a priest, then why not a bishop? Yet others have pointed out the hypocrisy of the 'Church of England' in that it has for long said that it was all right for lay people to practise homosexuality, but not for clergy! Yet others have said, that since 30% (sic!) of Anglican clergy are homosexual anyway, why not be open and honest? If all these astonishing revelations are true, and it is what Anglicans themselves have said, then a number of conclusions can be reached immediately. First of all, the 'Church of England' stands accused of incredible hypocrisy, by pretending that none of this had been going on for years. Secondly, if these are normal moral standards and expectations among clergy and laypeople in the 'Church of England', one wonders why anyone would bother to belong to it at all.
It is not that we are fanatical fundamentalists or priggish Puritans who love backbiting or have a 'thing' about sexuality, it is just that in the Orthodox Church, because we know how weak we are, we do believe in the Gospels and the Tradition of the Church. As with so much that has gone on in the 'Church of England' in the last forty years, our breath has simply been taken away by what appear to be the norms of Anglicanism. It is not that we are perfect, that we do not have cases of homosexuality or adultery, and other far more important sins, it is just that these practices are universally recognized in the Orthodox Church for what they are - sin. We do not try to justify ourselves with all sorts of intellectual sophistry. We simply go to confession and repent.
We do not doubt our Faith - but if some do, then they lapse and leave the Church, because they are honest enough to admit that they have lost their Faith. If you do not accept the Holy Trinity, the Divinity, Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Holy Spirit, the Second Coming, the existence of angels and saints and miracles, the importance of marriage in uniquely channelling human sexuality, the existence of the devil, then simply be honest: Admit the blatantly obvious - that you are a humanist or a pagan and not a Christian, and leave Christians to be Christians. The acceptance of the practice of homosexuality (be it among laypeople or clergy is irrelevant) is so obviously anti-Scriptural and anti-Tradition that it needs no further comment from Orthodox Christians.
Of course it is true that the 'Church of England' has been through periods of decadence before. Its mere survival till 2003 is a miracle in itself. Many thought it would go under in the eighteenth century. Many thought it would disintegrate in the 'woman-priest' and 'woman-bishop' controversy of the 1980's and 1990's. Then the vast majority decided that they were after all Protestants and did not believe in the sacraments and so allowed the 'ordination' of female pastors, just like Baptists and other Protestant denominations.
But perhaps it is now time to draw a line under this whole part of English History. Born as a breakaway group from Rome through the lust of a murderer King, the syphilitic hater of monasteries, Henry VIII, the 'Church of England' may finally have decided to end itself. Founded by an adulterous heterosexual, the end may come through a homosexual. Perhaps it is no bad thing. In today's irreligious and anti-religious world, the State no longer needs a State Church, especially one which appears to be so spiritually weak that a majority have left it and today it numbers less than a million, many of whom are not too sure what they believe in.
Let the vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion, many of whom are already out of communion with one another anyway, wander off to join up with the myriad of other Protestant-Evangelical groupings. They all seem so indistinguishable from one another from the Orthodox point of view anyway. A few will no doubt become Roman Catholic, although the medieval Catholic imposition of priestly celibacy, which has led directly to their critical shortage of clergy and indirectly to pedophilia, will discourage most. Others may join the ever-increasing number of sectarian and cultish 'Continuing Anglican Churches'. Few will wish to join the living martyrdom of the Orthodox Church. Who, after all, wants to go up on to the Cross?
Whatever the general, political and Constitutional crises and choices ahead for the United Kingdom in the coming months, the Anglican State-Church now faces a particular spiritual and moral crisis and choice. It is difficult to sweep the problems under the carpet any longer. The time has come for the 'Church of England' to decide whether it wants Christ and His Cross and His Resurrection or not. The fork in the road is here. Take it or leave it.