Where next?

In its relentless desire to push the envelope, the CofE (aka WOKEChurch) has finally appointed its first black female bishop. Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin (why the ‘_’?) has been waiting in the wings for some time. In an institution which prides itself on inclusivity, the delay seems unconscionable.

But the question now must be: what next? To keep up the momentum of novelty there is much to be done. The first partnered gay woman bishop? The first black partnered gay woman bishop? The first transgendered bishop? The first black transgendered bishop? And when those are achieved, where?

Nothing is certain. Except that whatever it is, the Episcopal Church of the United States will have got there first.

Ipsissima Verba

A kind reader has suggested that Pope Francis would never be so crass as to adopt the minimalist interpretation of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes so familiar to us from liberal Protestant sources. I append the following:

Thus he tells his disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 — this is not merely coincidental, for it means that they are no longer a crowd but become communities nourished by God’s bread. Jesus then takes those loaves and fish, looks up to heaven, recites the blessing — the reference to the Eucharist is clear — and breaks them and gives them to the disciples who distribute them… and the loaves and fish do not run out, they do not run out! This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity. (Francis, Angelus,  St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 2 June 2013)

Surprisingly, the account of the multiplication of the loaves does not mention the multiplication itself. On the contrary, the words that stand out are: “break”, “give” and “distribute” (cf. Lk 9:16). In effect, the emphasis is not on the multiplication but the act of sharing. This is important. Jesus does not perform a magic trick; he does not change five loaves into five thousand and then to announce: “There! Distribute them!” No. Jesus first prays, then blesses the five loaves and begins to break them, trusting in the Father. And those five loaves never run out. This is no magic trick; it is an act of trust in God and his providence. (Francis, Homily on Corpus Christi, Rome, June 23, 2019)

Excerpts from the Pope Francis New Testament.

No 2: The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus and his mother knew that the unjust steward had been syphoning off the best wine into these jars for his own use. (It was a regular scam of stewards.) Jesus said to the servants, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.  When the master of the feast tasted the wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee. And his mother, who knew precisely what had happened, kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Excerpts from the Pope Francis New Testament.

No 1: The Non-Multiplication of the Loaves. (cf Francis, Angelus address, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 2 June 2013)

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what would come to pass. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated beside him; so also the fish. And behold, at this sign of generosity from Jesus, the five thousand, who had selfishly been keeping to themselves the food each had brought – hidden in satchels and up capacious sleeves – shared their provisions also. Each said to other: ‘Come let us share, for here is food enough.’ When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw what his simple gesture had achieved, they began to say, ‘This man is a real inspiration. There was enough food for everybody after all. A man with charisma like that should be elected president.’

Bishops get it right!

Congratulations to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for protesting the outrageous decision of Judge Natalie Lieven to require a Catholic mother to abort her child.

Bishop John Sherrington told it like it is:

‘Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will, and that of her close family, infringes her human rights, not to mention the right of her unborn child to life in a family that has committed to caring for this child. In a free society like ours there is a delicate balance between the rights of the individual and the powers of the state.’

And so say all of us.

New New Testament

We are proud to announce the publication of the
Pope Francis New Testament.

Urged by many of those close to him, the Holy Father has chosen to assist the Church by putting his exceptional charism of Greek Translation
at our disposal.

All the questions about scripture that you have always pondered:

Was Mary really a Virgin?
Was Paul a raging homophobe?
Did Mary Magdalen found the Church?
Is divorce really forbidden?
Is adultery such a bad thing after all?
Should murderers be hanged?
Will anyone be cast into a lake of fire?

are authoritatively answered in this scintillating sequel to
Pope Francis: Our Father.

This inspired translation will supersede all others for Catholics. It is mandatory for readings at Mass*.

This is a work of scholarship and insight – truly a Jesus for the post-Vatican II era. This, at last, is a New Testament I can really believe in.’ Austen Ivereigh

Jesus and Paul are revealed for the gay-friendly, inclusive personalities they really were. If only the NT had been like this from the beginning!’ Fr James Martin.

*presently available only in Italian and Spanish