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A Bishop in want of bashing.
Bishop Stephen Venner wasn't the best choice for Bishop to the Forces after he retired early as Suffragan Bishop of Dover.
The report in the Kentish Gazette of his retirement speech last month has been much abridged on line since the first publication.
He was reported then (this is a google cache) thus
Stephen Venner the outgoing Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury and Dover, has spoken of his sadness at the lack of people in churches.
Dr Venner was delivering his final sermon at Eucharist in the Cathedral on Saturday before he moves to Rochester to devote himself to being Bishop to the Forces.
He told the congregation: “One of the things that saddens me is going into church after church and seeing the postcards and pictures of church buildings and not seeing a single human being inside them.
“The churchyards are empty, the insides are empty.
“Yet the brochures talk about the restoration and the work being on them, but without people there is little value in them.”
His farewell service saw hundreds of people gather to listen to the final sermon as well as sing and pray as they celebrated Eucharist, the re-enactment of the Last Supper when a table of bread and wine is prepared.
It speaks volumes of the state of the land, spiritually and intellectually, when an English newspaper in England feels the need to explain what the Eucharist is to its readers.
But I’m not surprised his churches are empty when he comes out with this as his first important statement as the newly appointed Bishop to the Forces. A post not to be confused with the Bishop for the Forces which is the Roman Catholic office. Bishop Richard Moth is also a new appointment but if this interview is anything to go be the RC man has a bit more sense. Praise be.
Venner is also Bishop of the Falklands. He needs to make a long slow pastoral visit.
I know that the soldiers have a higher opinion of the fighting ability of the taliban than they have of the 'Afghan Army' they work alongside; this is not the same as admiring a group who ill treat women and use children as suicide bombers.
Damian Thompson can be funny and because of his forthright views on Islam I find Christian forgiveness for him when he (frequently) snipes at the Church of England. In this instance he is right. I do despair of my own church’s leaders sometimes.
He puts Bishop Venner’s words into the context of another war.
Bishop Venner stressed his admiration for the sacrifices made by the Allied forces fighting in Europe but also urged the need for a reassessment of how the Nazis are viewed.
“We’ve been too simplistic in our attitude towards the Nazis,” said Bishop Venner, who was recently commissioned in his new role by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“There’s a large number of things that the Nazis say and stand for which none of us in Britain could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it’s not honest really.
“The Nazis can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.”
That would have been treason then. Haven’t our troops got enough to contend with?