Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Thoughts of Citizen Pete


Those of you unfamiliar with English ritual and custom might not be aware that we still have an established church, a national church, supposedly. Yes, we have the Church of England, the dear old C of E, the church in which I was baptised and confirmed. It has ancient roots as part of a worldwide Catholic communion, though since the Reformation it has been headed not by the Pope but by the reigning monarch as Supreme Governor.

Now the powers conferred by this office are really residual in nature. Still, the archbishops and bishops all owe a basic loyalty to the institution of monarchy. But the Church of England, you see, is a broad church, with room for all sorts of people; it even has room, as I discovered recently, for republican bishops: it has room for the likes of Pete Broadbent (apparently he insists on ‘Pete’), Bishop of Willesden. Now that’s another new discovery for me: I had no idea that there was a Bishop of Willesden.

Anyway, Bishop Pete is a trendy sort of guy, a sort of Tony Blair kinda cleric. He twitters and tweets and he has a Facebook page. He’s used Twitter to announce to the world that he was going to have a ‘republican day’ in France on the occasion of the forthcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Not content with that, he went on to Facebook to describe them as ‘shallow celebrities’ whose marriage would last seven years at the outside, before proceeding to a sustained assault on the monarchy in general, with some offensive and distasteful remarks about Prince Charles (Big Ears) and his late wife (Porcelain Doll) thrown to season the stew.

What can I say about Pete? He is entitled to his republican and anti-monarchist views, of course he is, though I would have thought that this was something of a problem for a senior cleric in a church that professes outward loyalty to the royal house. But set that aside, for is there not something even more basic, anti-Christian, it might even be said, in his churlish and boorish dismissal of the marital prospects of a couple setting out on life together? It does not really matter if they are celebrities or not (William can hardly help being a celebrity), it does not really matter of they are ‘shallow’ or not (judging, I suppose, by his depth); they deserve the respect that every other couple is entitled to, not this ghastly man’s uncharitable and hurtful rudeness. With people like him in charge small wonder that the decline of the Church of England in recent years has been so rapid.

I simply can’t abide ill-manners, boorishness and discourtesy in any degree. When a man like Pete (a citizen and not a subject, as he says on Facebook) jeers at a couple who have given no offense and caused no harm, other than to announce that they intend to marry, then it becomes absolutely intolerable. But I’m not as uncharitable as Citizen Pete. I really do hope that the sun shines on his republican day and that the French make him very welcome. I hope they make him so welcome that Willesden and England never see Citizen Pete again.

40 comments:

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  4. He's a third rate "Happy Clapper".

    The English constitutional establishment has historically been a dynamic balancing act between Peers, Church, Crown and Commons.

    The Royal family, ghastly as they can be, are all that's left between the English people and undiluted rule by a coterie of polyester suited, polytechnic educated, polychromatic mediocraties.

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  5. Reminds me of the Anti-Bush crowd in my hometown, not to mention the most militant Evolutionists. They made you hate them so much you were actually cheering for the other side even if, in principle, you agreed with them.

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  6. Snap...http://thisroyalthroneofkings.blogspot.com/2010/11/episcopal-hypocrisy-and-bankruptcy-of.html

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  7. Hear, hear! I'm not sure "boor" or "fool" best describes "Pete", but his words are not edifying, anyway.

    There are (C of E) Bishops of all manner of unlikely places (and with no cathedral to call their own): Barking is another one that springs immediately to my mind (although I guess there was once a most important abbey there).

    And, unlikely as it may appear now, Willesden was long a place of pilgrimage (I think from around the 10th century on), with a shrine around a Black Madonna. Although, it appears it later got a bad reputation for attracting rowdies.

    I find a piece here rather amusing
    http://www.stmarywillesden.org.uk/Virgin5.html

    "nd in 1530, one Doctor Crome, charged with heresy, told his accusers: "On the Day of Judgement God will not say to thee 'Why wentest thou not to Wilsdon on pilgrimage?'""

    Nowadays...well there is quite a nice Japanese restaurant along from Willesden Green tube...but almost all traces of its past have been erased.

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  8. Many People are moving away from The political institutions of organized religions.

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  9. Well, then, Adam, the lesson here is obvious: always read a story to the end, especially when it appears in the Daily Mail> :-)

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  11. Suciô, just imagine a President Tony Blair. No, don't; it's simply too awful.

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  13. Dominic, it was a cheap shot by a cheap man. Thanks for that interesting information on Willesden.

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  14. Anthony, the relationship here between the established church, the monarchy and political institutions more generally is really quite a subtle one, more to do with custom and tradition than organised religion as such.

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  15. A cleric in the tradition of the 'go-ahead Bishop of Bevindon, Dr. Spacely-Trellis' one the exotic creations of Peter Simple (Michael Wharton), late of the Daily Telegraph

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  17. Right, Adam, since you rasied this with me in an email I'm going to publish my response in full.

    "Oh, for goodness sake no offence was meant. You identified yourself with this man without fully understanding the import of his words, without taking the trouble to read the whole report, a report that you flagged up for me. I responded with a mild polemical rebuke. I'm not seriously suggesting that you are a republican. You really must get used to the way I argue, the way I weave in and out, always looking for vulnerable points."

    I'm truly sorry you have taken this, a mild debating point, so personally.

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  19. Republicanism is not treason. Accusing you of frivolity clearly is. I've never come across anyone quite as literal-minded as you. It makes debate, the forms of gentle satire that I favour, virtually pointless, always subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

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  21. I'll reserve my style, my substance and my humour in future for those who understand it.

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  27. "small wonder that the decline of the Church of England in recent years has been so rapid".

    Ana, "Nature abhors a vacuum". Any ideas on what is rushing in to fill the one being created in England?

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  29. Adam, I accept that I misinterpreted your BBC remark. I have no excuse but pressure of time. This is one cat that shouts...and scratches. :-)

    That's the last remark I will allow against the royal marrige. You can chew as much carpet as you wish on your own blog.

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  31. Cheech, I wish I knew. Yes, I do! We've had New Labour. Why not New Christianity, with Citizen Pete, who is ever so sorry for his remarks about the royal marriage, as Archbishop of Canterbury? :-))

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  32. Reverbation in the wilderness when there is nobody there to hear? Who cares? :-)

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  35. He ought to be beheaded as a lesson to other Blairites.

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