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
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