From Canon Wealands Bell
Sir, - It is unsurprising that "the single often feel ignored in
News, 3 May), given the aggressively matrimonial tone of some
of our language and practice. Phrases such as "shared ministry" to
describe not the work of priest and people, but of clergy and their
spouses, have become commonplace.
Our liturgical practice can similarly betray unfortunate
imbalances: in our seating arrangements, do we draw ordinands and
new ministers from the people of God, or from their own families?
How often are the gifts of bread and wine brought to the sanctuary
by mum, dad, and the kids?
This is not to diminish marriage and family life: by no means.
Yet, despite offering marriage as a principal means for growing in
holiness, the Church reserves baptism as the sacrament of new life
in Christ: this can never be subordinated to another.
One way of ensuring this might be to make more of godparents:
these were once the candidates' chief supporters, a sign that in
baptism we move beyond the limits of the merely biological: "a
change of identity is taking place, freed from the ties of this
world" (Anselm Grün). Naturally, we remain uniquely conjoined to
those with whom we share a bed-bond and a blood-bond (as Tony
Harrison has called them). But among us all who share the
bread-bond of Christ's body, the Church, there can be no
23 The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD