An Amusing Argument

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, claims most of the church\’s assets once belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.

He says it would be "legalised theft" if the Church of England tried to keep buildings used by Anglo-Catholics who may defect to Rome after its governing body voted to bring in women bishops without special concessions for traditionalists.

Anglo-Catholics have already said they hope entire parishes will be accepted into the Roman Catholic Church while keeping their existing churches, a move which would be strongly resisted by the Church of England and would inevitably lead to legal disputes.

Not sure it quite flies though. There might have been a time when churches actually belonged to the parish, even to the parishoners, but I rather doubt that that\’s the case these days. They belong to the central organisation, no?

3 thoughts on “An Amusing Argument”

  1. As far as the CofE goes, it is an interesting and complex area. Most churches, I believe, belong to the diocese but I have certainly been in churches that do belong to the parishor similar (and hence have greater control over who they appoint as Priest-in-Charge) and at least one church that still belonged to the feudal landholding family.

    However, I think the good bishop’s point is that as the churches once belonged, pre-Henry VIII, to the RCC (however the legalities of that worked in detail) and they want to re-return (taking in to account Queen Mary) to that fold:

    He said: “Most of the assets of the Church of England in terms of buildings, schools and other property either come from the pre-Reformation Catholic Church or as a direct result of the Tractarian and Catholic revival.

    This property is very much our heritage and inheritance and to suggest that many wish to steal it from us in a very unpleasant form of legalised theft would not be an understatement.”

    I am somewhat less impressed (and not wishing to suggest that I am at all impressed by the above) by the American argument that defecting churches should keep the name of their previous diocese. I would have thought that they would either establish a new diocese with the “Mildly Bigoted but Still Episcopal Church of America” or join the local RC diocese (which may or may not have the same name as the Episcopal Church variant.)

  2. If the CoE churches logically “ought” to belong to anyone, it’s the the atheist and Protestant English, the descendants of those who paid for them. I see no case for the occasional whine that they ought to be handed over to the descendants of Irish immigrants.

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