21 May 2020, The Tablet

The Church has, I think, contributed to a sense of its own redundance


Future of agriculture

The Church has, I think, contributed to a sense of  its own redundance
 

Sometimes atheists put it best. The Times columnist, Matthew Parris, pondering who has had a good and bad Covid war, ranked the Church among the losers. “Its leaders, from [the Archbishop of Canterbury] down, have been feeble,” he wrote. “They should have fought for everyone’s right to enter a tranquil and beautiful place of worship to pray or meditate alone. Social distancing was always possible. The Church has let down the laity.”

That’s the view from outside and it sounds about right to me. He’s not just talking about Anglicans, either. The same goes for the Catholic Church. In defining itself as a non-essential service, unlike off-licences or allotments or even a second-order service like garden centres in the hierarchy of priorities, the Church has, I think, contributed to a sense of its own redundance. While some churches in Italy remained open during the crisis and churches in Germany offered actual services as soon as practically possible, those in Britain and Ireland have been content to wait at the back of the queue until the Government gets round to saying you can come out now.

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