Sunday, 18 March 2012

It's Our Church...

I heard a little of the Today programme this morning: two things, to be precise. 

The one that made me stop and think was a lesbian saying how ‘it’s our Church, and the sacraments should be available to all,’ or words to that effect.

That set my inner linguistic pedant going, with the following result:

When I say something is mine, I may mean any one of a number of things.  

‘My piece of chewing gum’ means a bit of chewing gum I can do as I like with: save, chew, discard, stick under the piano....

‘My dog’ means the dog which I own, but towards which, by virtue of ownership, I also owe some responsibility.

‘My children’ shifts that balance further: I have both authority and responsibility in this relationship, but not ownership.

‘My wife’ (well, perhaps I’d better pass swiftly over that one...)

‘My parents’ to whom I owe obedience when young, and respect always, and support when they are old.

‘My God’ to whom I owe everything, and over whom I have no authority.

So to say the Church is ‘Our Church’ is true in one sense: but we have to be precise.  It is not ours to do as we like with, nor ours to exercise authority over.  In those respects, it is not our Church at all, but Christ’s Church.  It is our Church in the same way that Christ is Our Lord: the one to whom we owe obedience and love.  So to move from ‘it’s our Church’ to ‘therefore we should be able to change it suit our views’ is a huge non sequitur.

I also heard our old friend Martin Pendergast saying he didn’t want a ‘gay marriage.’  Holy Matrimony, he opined, was too tied up with a patriarchal and possessive view of relationships, whereas his long-term relationship with Julian Filochowski (one-time Director of CAFOD) is clearly on a higher plane of equality and love...  Poor soul: he needs our prayers.

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