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Goodbye: I am letting anger drop

08 February 2013

I HAVE written this column for nine years. It is time for me to hang up my hat. It has been a huge privilege to write in these pages, and I want publicly to thank the work of the editorial team, who have been so supportive of my column.

Partly, this decision has to do with the arrival of a new Archbishop. Justin Welby is a good man, and will, I expect, make a fine leader of the Church. But his moral opposition to homosexuality remains a massive problem for me - as was that of his predecessor. I do not want to spend my time getting angry with him, or continually being ashamed at the Church of which I am, and will always try to remain, a part.

But the C of E is travelling in a different direction now. And there is something spiritually deadening about being in a state of permanent opposition to all of this. In my sermon on Sunday, I preached about the loyalty of Simeon and Anna, arguing that it is more important to say what you are for than what you are against. I need to take my own advice, and find a different space where I feel more comfortable saying what I am for.

Writing a column from a Christian perspective is a tricky business. It is difficult enough, even without the Christian bit - and I often joke with friends that I am one of the few people who are obliged to have more opinions publicly than they have privately. But the moral challenge of doing journalism as a priest remains considerable.

There are certainly times when I have got this wrong. But, as I go on, I find myself having less and less respect for the leadership (for want of a better word) of an organisation that often seems to do little more than seek its own perpetuation. Indeed, I find the mealy-mouthed pronouncements of many bishops plain embarrassing.

There comes a point where it feels wrong to use the newspaper of record for the Church of England continually to attack this - however much the Church Times has a noble record of voicing loyal opposition to much church nonsense.

The Occupy thing obviously continues to haunt me; and I will probably remain bruised about all of that to my dying day. Watching the new man being made Archbishop at St Paul's brought much of it back - and I had been preparing this week to write something that expressed some of that emotion. It was then that I realised clearly that it was time for me to go.

Sometimes you have to let the anger drop, if only for your own sanity. It's time for fresh fields and pastures new.

Canon Giles Fraser is Priest-in-Charge of St Mary's, Newington, in the diocese of Southwark.

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