Ms Meghan Markle, whose first marriage was according to a Jewish rite, is now to be baptized in preparation for her second marriage to Prince Harry.
Dr Chasuble. But is there any particular infant in whom you are interested, Mr. Worthing? Your brother was, I believe, unmarried, was he not? Jack. Oh yes. Miss Prism. [Bitterly.] People who live entirely for pleasure usually are. Jack. But it is not for any child, dear Doctor. I am very fond of children. No! the fact is, I would like to be christened myself, this afternoon, if you have nothing better to do Dr Chasuble. But surely, Mr. Worthing, you have been christened already? Jack. I don’t remember anything about it. Dr Chasuble. But have you any grave doubts on the subject? Jack. I certainly intend to have. Of course I don’t know if the thing would bother you in any way, or if you think I am a little too old now. Dr Chasuble. Not at all. The sprinkling, and, indeed, the immersion of adults is a perfectly canonical practice. Jack. Immersion! Dr Chasuble. You need have no apprehensions. Sprinkling is all that is necessary, or indeed I think advisable. Our weather is so changeable. At what hour would you wish the ceremony performed? Jack. Oh, I might trot round about five if that would suit you.
Who would be an Archbishop of Canterbury? I tell you it’s all go. If it isn’t same sex marriage, it’s transsexualism. And even then the unexpected emerges to entrap you.
Take the forthcoming royal wedding: not at all plain sailing from my point of view. The girl is an unbaptized divorcee. That, of course, would not matter to a Catholic – her first marriage would simply be declared invalid. But we, in the Church of England, recognize civil marriages – so technically I can’t marry them, and they will have to go off to a register office, like Charles and Camilla.
OK, you might say, let them do it.
But think of the consequences. Royal nuptials are good box office. A wedding in Westminster Abbey or St George’s Windsor is worth countless millions to the tourist trade. Can I let the economy suffer on a mere matter of principle?
Then there is the Trump state visit. Personally, I want nothing to do with the man. I can’t imagine why a Christian would vote for him or want to meet him. But if there is a banquet at the palace I shall have to go. It’s all right for Sentamu to chop up his dog collar in protest (a gratuitous bit of attention seeking in my opinion) but as head of the State Church I hardly have an option.
So Trump it is… and Meghan for the altar. How far we have come since Wallis Simpson!
Well, there you are! I have unburdened myself as usual. And at a time when you have the minefield of Myanmar to negotiate. Good luck.
It all began with the manipulation of language. We should have known – Orwell warned us – but we let it pass.
‘Sex’, the physiological phenomenon which facilitates reproduction, was modulated to ‘gender’, a linguistic function in the construction of grammar. The culprit, it seems, was one John Money, a ‘sexologist’; and it began as recently as 1955. The diseminators (!) were radical feminists and the World Health Organisation.
The new meaning of gender took off in countless reports and memoranda, until it has replaced the earlier term even in common parlance. But the change was not merely a linguistic fad. It had serious intent. It was a potent weapon in social deconstruction.
If the Enlightenment was a revolt against the past in the name of a future as yet unborn, gender-speak was its ideal tool. By blurring the immemorial distinction between the sexes it undermined the family (always a bête noire of the progressive Left). Ultimately, by asserting that gender is a social or even personal construction, it muddied the waters of all social discourse. The notion of ‘gender dysphoria’ is its ugly offspring.
Ours is rapidly becoming a world where there is no truth – where my truth is a good as your truth. Individual feelings are paramount. I feel, therefore I am. A child can ‘feel’ that she is a boy; and an adult can be penalised for saying that she is not. Marriage can as well be between two women or two men, because their feelings are all that matters.
The Church has a vocation in all this to witness to the simple fact that society and its values are not simply a human construct, which can be deconstructed at will. They are grounded in the immutable facts of our terrestrial existence; rooted in that which is given and not made.
Looking back on the twentieth century, which saw the bloodiest attempts at social deconstruction and reconstruction the world has ever known – beside which the guillotine and the Terror pale into insignificance – we can see how pressing that task is.
Reports in the Daily Telegraph that monks of Ampleforth Abbey are to benefit from a refit costing £6.8m which will include en suite bathrooms and Moulton Brown toiletries, have been greeted with anger and incredulity by Pope Francis.
The Pope’s own lifestyle is known to be frugal and austere.
Papal aid Antonio Spadaro has consequently released pictures of the Papal accommodation in the Casa Santa Marta, and of a typical pontifical meal.
There arrived on my desk this morning a memorandum which does you nothing but credit. From time to time HIM Office of Statistics provides me with a useful summary of the progress of all our operatives.
You have clearly had a considerable success with your patient; the department itemises:
2013. Francis said that Jesus’s multiplication of bread and fish was really a miracle of sharing, not of multiplying .
2014. The midterm report of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family recommended that pastors emphasize the “positive aspects” of cohabitation and civil remarriage after divorce.
2014. Francis told a woman in an invalid marriage that she could take Holy Communion.
2015. He claimed that lost souls do not go to hell; and said that Jesus had begged his parents for forgiveness.
2016. He said that God had been “unjust with his son”; announced his prayer intention to build a society “that places the human person at the centre”; and declared that inequality is “the greatest evil that exists.”
2017. Was a bumper year. Francis joked that “inside the Holy Trinity they’re all arguing behind closed doors, but on the outside they give the picture of unity.”
Jesus Christ, he said, “made himself the devil.”
“No war is just,” he pronounced.
At the end of history, “everything will be saved.” he said, “Everything.”
This accelerating progress is very heartening. These direct contradictions of scripture and departures from Church teaching are what we would normally expect of a Liberal Protestant. To have achieved so much in so short a time (with a Pope for your patient) is by any standards remarkable. But do not rest on your laurels. The steepest mountain is still to climb: gender dysphoria and all that that entails
After your dazzling successes with the Anglican Communion, however, I have every confidence that you can finish the job.
In our new series, agony uncle Justin Welby answers your questions.
Questions should be addressed to: The Most Reverend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7JU
My little boy (he will be five in January) has recently developed an interest in my Janet Regers. He dresses up in my bra and panties and parades himself in front of relations and visitors. I find this rather embarrassing. What should I do?
I am sure that there is nothing to be alarmed about. Statistics show that an increasing number of little boys (and girls) are showing an early interest in cross-dressing. We in the Church of England believe that everyone – including the totties – should be enabled freely to discover who they really are. After all, we are all made in the image of God (what we theologians call the ‘imago Dei’) and have a right to explore all possibilities for ourselves.
Does it matter if your child grows up to be Superman or Greyson Perry, as long as they have a fulfilled and happy life as the person they want be? What a dull world it would be if we all turned out to be the same!
Trust me, I am a theologian. We theologians are coming to see that sound theology and genuine humanity go hand in hand.
Your task is surely truly to accompany your child on his journey. If he likes pink give him pink, I say!